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Bill seeks to prohibit railroads from using remote controls to move haz-mat trains


Earlier this week, Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) introduced a bill (H.R. 5119) in the House that would prohibit railroads from using remote-control locomotives (RCL) to move hazardous materials. A railroad that violates the proposed law would be subject to a civil penalty of at least $5,000 but not more than $50,000.

"There is no independent analysis of haz-mat remote-control locomotive
security risks," said Green in a letter sent to House members. "Since haz-mat remote-control locomotives are potentially much greater risks than manned haz-mat trains, especially on main tracks and over public grade crossings, the Federal Railroad Administration and railroads should demonstrate remote-control haz-mat trains are safe before allowing them to freely operate."

Terrorists frequently attack transportation targets, so a RCL moving hazardous materials is vulnerable, Green believes.

"On a plane full of jet fuel, the last line of defense is the pilots in
the cockpit, so we armed pilots and hardened cockpit doors," he said.
"Since neither security nor safety of remote control is conclusively
established, I am introducing precautionary legislation to secure remote-control trains and prohibit haz-mat cargos."

The bill — which is supported by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers & Trainmen, Teamsters Rail Conference — was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/24/2004