Posts Tagged ‘commuter rail’

SMART-TD, BLET petition FRA for passenger rail emergency protocols regarding COVID-19

CLEVELAND, Ohio (March 20, 2020) — On the heels of their joint petition to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requesting an Emergency Order (EO) to address employee safety conditions in response to the national COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak, the SMART Transportation Division and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) are now asking for a similar EO for Amtrak and passenger/commuter lines.

“Therefore, it is necessary that Amtrak and all railroads providing passenger and commuter rail service to take immediate and appropriate precautions to mitigate against the spread of the virus amongst their workforces and passengers, to minimize the exposure of their employees to the virus during the performance of their duties, and to maintain sufficient staffing levels to compensate for reduced headcounts caused by sick employees and family members until the virus begins to subside,” SMART-TD President Jeremy R. Ferguson and BLET President Dennis R. Pierce wrote in their petition.

The unions’ request for an EO basically calls for an action plan to help address the potential spread of the coronavirus among rail workers by using protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To date, the FRA has failed to enact such an action plan. Several components of the unions’ passenger rail EO request mirror those requested in their joint freight petition, which includes: locomotive sanitation, common room sanitation, employee temperature observation protocols, away-from-home terminal procedures, crew transportation sanitation, what to do if an employee develops symptoms, and furlough recall procedures. The unions’ petition for a passenger EO covers: coach/passenger car sanitation standards, sleeper car sanitation, and directives in case a passenger develops symptoms.

The unions suggest that 25% of furloughed rail personnel should immediately be recalled to service to deal with anticipated shortages and staffing needs, in accordance with President Trump’s invocation of the Defense Production Act.

“In order to standardize and define the best protocols across the industry for mitigation of the spread of the virus and the protection of both passengers and employees, there exists a number of safety precautions that need to be immediately ordered by FRA,” Presidents Ferguson and Pierce stated.

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The SMART Transportation Division is comprised of approximately 125,000 active and retired members of the former United Transportation Union, who work in a variety of crafts in the transportation industry.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen represents nearly 58,000 professional locomotive engineers and trainmen throughout the United States. The BLET is the founding member of the Rail Conference, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Read the emergency petition filed to FRA. (PDF)

APTA reports U.S. rail ridership up in second quarter compared with 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Americans took more than 2.5 billion passenger trips on public transportation in the second quarter of 2019, according to the quarterly Transit Ridership Report released by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), representing 11 million trips more than during the same period last year.

These second-quarter results show an increase of nearly 0.5% across all modes compared to the second quarter of 2018, APTAA said in a news release summarizing the report. This includes a rise of 1.44% for heavy rail, 3.54% for commuter rail systems, 0.5% in bus systems in population areas exceeding 2 million people, and 1.51% in systems in communities of less than 100,000 residents, APTA said.

Among commuter rail carriers that saw notable increases, the New York MTA’s Long Island Rail Road saw an increase of 10.6%. SMART TD represents employees of the carrier.

The full second-quarter APTA Transit Ridership Report is available here as a PDF.

RRB Analysis: Trump’s budget to gut Amtrak would be disastrous for ALL rail workers

John Risch, SMART TD Legislative Director

If signed into law, President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal would eliminate Amtrak’s long distance train service. The immediate fall out would be significant for all American rail workers resulting in the loss of 10,000 non-Northeast Corridor Amtrak jobs by the end of this year.

According to a recent report by the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) actuary, the impact of such job losses would result in a long-term decrease in Railroad Retirement benefits and overall increase in taxes.

Impact on RRB benefits & trust funds if 10,000 Amtrak jobs cut

While RRB accounts could absorb the loss of 10,000 Amtrak jobs, the cumulative impact of losses in the rail industry, including approximately 30,000 jobs that have been lost in just the last two years, will take a significantly negative toll on the entire system. Attached you will find the RRB’s detailed projection in loss of jobs, loss of benefits, and major increase in railroad unemployment benefits projected for 2017 and 2018.

The time to act is NOW

We must urge fellow members, friends and family to call, email and write our national elected officials to OPPOSE any budget that would cut 10,00 Amtrak jobs, eliminate commuter rail service and irreparably harm the retirement benefits that all railroad members worked for a lifetime to secure.

Click here to urge your elected representatives to oppose any budget cuts to Amtrak’s long-distance train service via the Legislative Action Center (LAC).

In solidarity,

John Risch
National Legislative Director
SMART Transportation Division

Amtrak train in ND stuck in snow for 12 hours

RUGBY, N.D. – A 25-foot wall of snow stopped an eastbound Amtrak train in its tracks for twelve hours. Fortunately, no one was injured. Passenger services aboard the train remained operational, making the long wait more bearable. Read more from Bismarcktribune.com here.

 

 

 

 

Sign petition to Trump/FTA to save Caltrain project

Dear SMART TD member:

Please click on the link below to sign (and please share) this online petition to the White House asking the FTA to approve funding that has long been earmarked for San Francisco’s Caltrain’s Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP) a high-speed, electric commuter train system project:

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/support-9600-american-jobs-tell-fta-approve-funding-caltrain-electrification

The petition urges President Donald Trump to reverse Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s decision, which was to stop the project by placing $647 million in federal funding on hold. This transportation project has been years in the making and promises to replace Caltrain’s current diesel-fueled commuter trains with high-speed, electric commuter trains.

Sen. Diane Feinstein and Sen. Kamala Harris of Calif. released the following joint statement: “This decision is incomprehensible and will cause delays and millions of dollars of additional costs that could jeopardize the entire project.”

President Trump’s repeated campaign promises centered on safeguarding American jobs, creating thousands of new jobs and upgrading and developing our infrastructure. If that is still true, Trump must allow this project to move forward, as Caltrain PCEP will create nearly 10,000 jobs, not only in California, but in other states as well, including Utah, Texas, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Please sign the petition and share it with your brothers and sisters of of all trades.

Feds set back to Caltrain project; contractors step up

Railway Age reported that contractors on Caltrain’s Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project (PCEP) agreed to extend the deadline for first day of construction from March 1, 2017 to June 30, 2017.  This announcement was issued just days after the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced that the execution of a $647 million funding FFGA (Full Funding Grant Agreement) is now on hold, and will remain on hold until President Trump decides which federal funds will go where in his budget proposal to Congress. When/if completed, the years-long project will culminate in a cleaner, more efficient, high-speed commuter rail system in the busy San Francisco corridor, as diesel commuter trains will be replaced by electric trains. However, if the funds are not released by June 30, the project may be derailed permanently.  Read the complete article here.

To read more on the project, click here.

 

 

Los Angeles: bus ridership down, commuter rail up

According to an article posted by LaTimes.com, despite taxpayer support and route expansion, bus ridership with Los Angeles County’s Metropolitan Transit Authority (Metro) has dropped considerably over the past several years. Conversely, commuter rail ridership has increased, prompting Metro officials to look at possible long-term plans for commuter rail expansion. Read the complete article here.

“Full Circle” – Joe Biden takes Amtrak home to Delaware

Commuter rail has been former Vice President Joe Biden’s method of transportation his entire career. During his 36-year run as U.S. Senator, Biden commuted daily from his home in Delaware to Washington D.C., then back home again – a three hour, roundtrip commute. On Friday, January 20, immediately after the inauguration, Biden kept with tradition and took the Amtrak home to Wilmington. See a video clip reported by CNN and posted on Youtube, here.

 

NYC commuter rail lags behind in PTC technology

ABCNews.go.com reported that federal regulators are concerned about the lack of progress from NYC commuter rail in implementing potentially lifesaving Positive Train Control (PTC) technology.  “The nation’s three busiest commuter railroads — which together serve nearly 1 million riders in the New York City area each day — continue to lag behind their smaller West Coast counterparts in installing sophisticated train-control technology that’s seen as an antidote to crashes involving speeding and other human factors…” Read the complete article here.

 

Long Island commuter line reopens following crash

One of two Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) commuter lines reopened this morning following the crash that occurred Saturday night when a commuter train sideswiped a work train that was blocking the track.  Read the complete story from NYDailyNews.com.