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U.S. roads haven't closed security gaps, Teamsters Rail Conference says


U.S. railroads haven’t made significant progress toward closing security gaps that put rail workers’ safety at risk, according to the Teamsters Rail Conference, which recently released the results of its latest Safe Rails/Secure America survey.

In a report titled “High Alert Report 2: Four Years Later Workers Continue to Warn of Security Gaps on Nation’s Railroads,” the conference states that overall results of a survey among Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division (BMWED) members shows workers continue to report an “unacceptable level of vulnerability.”

“While the carriers have made some progress in several key areas (such as the securing of remote-control devices and the number of employees trained on their role in the employer’s emergency action plans), the overall results suggest that workers do not believe that the rail companies have significantly improved the security of their operations,” said Teamsters International Vice President John Murphy, BLET National President Paul Sorrow and BMWED President Freddie Simpson in a joint letter announcing the survey results.

No railroad emerged as a “strong across-the-board leader” regarding security efforts, they said. Each railroad both outperformed and underperformed its peers in different areas, “without many extreme variations from the industry norm.” the letter states.

In 2004-05, the Teamsters Rail Conference polled more than 4,000 BLET and BMWED members in the first Safe Rails/Secure America survey, and published the results in a report titled, “High Alert: Workers Warn of Security Gaps on Nation’s Railroads.”

The new survey posed identical questions to determine if, in the intervening five years, effective steps have been taken by the rail industry to address the security gaps revealed in the 2005 report, according to the conference. BLET and the BMWED members completed 7,280 surveys in 2008 and 2009 that evaluated safety and security measures in place at Class Is.

In April, Teamsters Rail Conference officials met with representatives from the Association of American Railroads, Amtrak and each Class I to brief them on survey results. The conference also provided copies of the report to the Federal Railroad Administration, Transportation Security Administration and congressional members.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/17/2010