Posts Tagged ‘commuter rail’

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.

NJT crash: focus now on cause and rail safety issues, again

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) began the task of gathering evidence to determine the cause of yesterday morning’s deadly New Jersey Transit crash that injured 114 and killed a woman who was standing on the platform at the busy hub in Hoboken, New Jersey. According to a CNN report, NTSB officials have retrieved the train’s event recorder and will soon interview engineer Thomas Gallagher, who was treated and released from the hospital yesterday. The sharp increase in railway accidents underscores the need to hasten implementation of  Positive Train Control (PTC) systems and mandated two-person crews on all trains.  Read the latest article from CNN, here. 
Photo courtesy of CNN.com.

NJT train crashes into Hoboken hub, one death reported

The New York Times reported that a New Jersey Transit train has crashed into a major Hoboken, NJ transit hub during rush hour.  A transportation official confirmed that one person has died and many others have been injured. Urban Search and Rescue squads are at the site.  No details yet on exact numbers of deaths or injured, or the cause of the crash.   Read the story here.

 

 

 

 

 

We’d better care about Clinton v. Trump on transportation

The Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, highlights the stark difference in how Clinton and Trump stand on transportation issues, underscoring how the outcome of this election may profoundly impact the health and future of transportation unions and all working families in America.  Read the entire article here.

 

Workers must unite: Only we can save ourselves

“Working Americans must act together, because the only things that can be done for workers must be done by workers – collectively. Like Washington, Jefferson and Adams, we don’t need a king – we need each other.” – Tom O’Brien. Read the article in its entirety at the Post-Gazette.com.

 

 

 

 

 

SMART TD member David Pryor featured in “The Atlantic”

David Pryor, Amtrak conductor and member of SMART TD Local 168, loves his job on the commuter rail and shared his sentiments and experiences in a recent interview with The Atlantic.   Not only does the job provide him with the opportunity to travel, he also noted that being on the railroad continually restores his faith in humanity.

“In my 27 years, I’ve seen people helping complete strangers. It lets you see the world from a different perspective. There are still a lot of wonderful people in this world,” Pryor stated to Associate Editor, Bourree Lam.  Read the complete article here.

 

The outcome of this election will affect your job

By John Risch, SMART TD National Legislative Director

RischFor those of you who don’t know me, I’m honored to serve as your elected National Legislative Director. I came from the ranks, starting in the track department on the Burlington Northern and went into train service, spending more than 30 years in freight and passenger service in North Dakota.

My father was a truck driver and my mother was a stay-at-home parent who raised three children and a cousin of mine. We grew up poor, which gave me a real appreciation for the pay and benefits that a good union job provided. My 30-plus years working on the railroad has given me a real perspective of the issues we face, and drives me to protect what we already have and work to make our jobs better.

The outcome of the Presidential Election will determine whether we make progress on improving our jobs or whether we lose ground.

The next president of the United States will set the tone, and will make important appointments to positions that directly affect you.

The head of the Federal Railroad Administration will decide:

  • Whether the two-person crew regulation is finalized or discarded
  • Whether we enact regulations requiring uniform speed signs on railroads
  • Whether there will be limitations on the use of inward facing cameras
  • What to do about fatigue in the freight rail industry

Appointees to the National Mediation Board will intervene in our contract negotiations and influence things like wages and work rules. They will also appoint arbitrators who decide if an unjustly fired member returns to work with or without back pay.

The head of the Motor Carrier Administration will decide how, or if, we will deal with the terrible problem of driver assault.

The next Chairman of the Railroad Retirement Board will determine not only how our pension is administered, but how our unemployment, sickness and disability benefits are administered as well.

I’m very concerned about Donald Trump, should he be elected as our next President. He has repeatedly said he will discard regulations and get rid of government bureaucracy. These are good sound bites and none of us want more government rules than are necessary, but when you look at the pending regulations affecting us, like two-person crews, fatigue and locomotive cameras, this rhetoric takes on a different meaning.

I have a note on my desk that says: “My most important job is to make sure that bad things don’t happen to our members.” I’m charged with the responsibility of protecting and improving the jobs of our members – an assignment I don’t take lightly. That job may be nearly impossible under a Trump administration.

Here is a book review of a recent book by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston. The book explains many of Donald Trump’s human failings. I know the hardcore Trump supporters in our ranks have by and large ignored these failings, but I cannot. I care about our hardworking members and our country, and quite simply put, Donald Trump is unqualified to serve as President of the United States.

If he is elected I’m afraid that he will appoint people to government that are equally unqualified, causing significant damage to the progress we have already made.

While I pledge to do the best I can to improve things for our members, I can’t do it on my own. I need your help at the ballot box. We’ve endorsed Hillary Clinton, she will support our union, our issues and the progress that unions have made. This is serious stuff and we all need to do our part in making our jobs better not just for us, but for those who follow. And that work starts with this election.

Anyone who wants to call and talk about this can call me at 202-543-7714. I work for you: What every one of you has to say matters to me.

 

Rail members: HazMAT Training in Minneapolis

Railroad Worker’s DOT-NIEHS Hazardous Material Training for Minnesota and Upper Midwest SMART-TD members!

 WHAT:
SMART TD members located in Minnesota or the Upper Midwest from all rail crafts are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible for our HazMat-DOT Train the Trainer Class.    The pay for attending and completing the week-long training class is approximately $1,050.00 from the DOT-NIEHS.

WHEN:
September 26 – October 1, 2016.  Class begins Monday, September 26 at 7:30am and concludes on Saturday, October 1st at 1:00 p.m. Lunches will be provided.  Class attendees must arrange to mark-off with their carriers.

WHERE:   
Courtyard Marriott, 1500 South Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN.  Located near the University of Minnesota, West Bank Campus – I-35W and Washington Avenue. Ramp parking is available to attendees at no cost. Check with the Courtyard Marriott Front Desk Attendant for parking permit.

TO REGISTER: Simply click this link to register  at the DOT-NIEHS Rail Hazmat website.

LET US KNOW THAT YOU’VE REGISTERED:

Please let us know so we can log attendees!  Email the SMART TD Minnesota office at: mailto:sld@smart-td-minnesota.org; Or, call your SMART-TD Minnesota Legislative Board Office at 651-222-7500.
If you live in the Upper Midwest and need a hotel room, please contact the DOT-NIEHS Travel Dept. at (202) 624-6999 to make your hotel reservation.   Attendees must drive their own vehicles.  No air travel is available.

QUESTIONS: Contact: Phil Qualy, SMART-TD Director at (651) 222-7500.

FRA approves plans for passenger rail in New England

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced a Finding of No Significant Impact on the Northern New England Intercity Rail Initiative (Initiative). This will enable states in the New England region, in partnership with the federal government, to develop plans for and invest in new passenger rail service. Read the complete press release here.

 

 

 

TTD applauds passage of Amtrak reauthorization

Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, issued the following statement about the U.S. House Representatives passage of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 (PRRIA):

“Today the House of Representatives took an important step to sustain Amtrak, America’s national passenger railroad. The overwhelming vote today on the floor of the House also demonstrates that the nation’s largest transportation challenges can be met with bipartisan cooperation and problem solving.

“As transportation unions recently declared in our Executive Committee policy statement, we now have an opportunity to set in motion a long-term vision for federal passenger rail policy. We are pleased that the House has endorsed a multi-year investment for Amtrak at a time when the railroad and its workforce are dealing with rising demand and aging equipment and infrastructure. While we will continue to advocate for higher federal funding levels for Amtrak, PRRIA gives Amtrak a measure of certainty as it advances long-term modernization plans.

“We are especially pleased that the House rejected an amendment that would have zeroed out Amtrak, hollowed out our only national passenger railroad, and destroyed thousands of middle-class jobs. Amtrak is an important driver of jobs and economic development and, like all areas of our transportation system, requires federal support in order to thrive. By voting against the McClintock amendment, members of Congress rejected the idea that the federal government should abdicate its responsibility to fund a key component of our national transportation system.

“Today’s bipartisan action in the House shows that members of Congress have heard Americans across the country who have called for increased passenger rail service. I especially want to thank Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster and Ranking Democrat Peter DeFazio, as well as Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham and Ranking Member Michael Capuano, for crafting this bill and moving it through the House.

“As PRRIA advances in the Senate, we will continue to oppose privatization mandates, outsourcing schemes, and other so-called reforms that would undermine Amtrak and its workforce and that were rejected in the House bill. At the same time, we will push for funding levels necessary to meet the long-term needs of our neglected passenger rail system and ensure that Amtrak is in a position to provide the type and level of service Americans are calling for.”

 

House passes Passenger Rail Reform, Investment Act

Amtrak LogoThe United States House of Representatives March 4 overwhelmingly passed bipartisan legislation that will provide critical investments in our nation’s passenger rail system.

H.R. 749, the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 (PRRIA) will ensure that our national passenger rail system continues its mission to connect communities – both large and small – across the country. The legislation passed 316-101.

The bipartisan legislation was sponsored by the top leadership of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, including Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Chairman of the Rail Subcommittee Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Michael Capuano (D-Mass.).

“In every region of the country, including the Pacific Northwest, passenger rail investments boost local economies and create thousands of family-wage construction, engineering, and manufacturing jobs. This bill isn’t perfect—but it was a bipartisan effort that ultimately provides critical investments and system wide improvements to increase capacity and make our railways safer. I’m glad that we were able to pass this legislation in a bipartisan way,” said DeFazio.

The legislation includes important reforms that will increase the number of loans issued to States, local governments, railroads, and shippers to finance the development of railroad infrastructure. The legislation includes strong Buy America provisions that ensure these loans are used to buy American steel, iron, and manufactured goods, boosting American manufacturing and created needed manufacturing jobs.

New surface transport law a mixed bag

It’s not all we wanted, but, maybe more important, it’s not as bad as it could have been.

Given the polarization of this Congress, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century – MAP-21 – is as good a new transportation authorization bill as we could have hoped for. Passed by bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate June 29, President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

This is what MAP-21 does as it applies to bus, commuter rail, intercity passenger rail and freight rail:

* It increases federal expenditures for federal transit programs – bus and commuter rail – beginning in October and continuing through September 2014. Within those numbers, however, is a reduction in bus and bus facilities spending, which is a victory of sorts since an earlier version sought to zero out such spending.

* It allows transit systems operating fewer than 100 buses in peak service to use a portion of their capital grants for operating expenses. This will allow money for smaller, cash-strapped systems to keep buses on the road and return furloughed drivers to work. But, sadly, larger bus system do not gain such flexibility — even during periods of high unemployment.

* It extends a $17 billion federal loan program for transit and freight rail operators, making, for example, up to $350 million available to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) for transit improvements.

* It grants authority to the Department of Transportation to create a national safety plan for all modes of public transportation, which will result in minimum standard safety performance standards for systems not currently regulated by the federal government. These safety performance standards will include establishment of a national safety certification training program for employees of federal- and state-owned transit system.

* It requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to establish a national registry of medical examiners within one year, and requires employers periodically to verify the commercial driver license status of employees.

* It provides 80 percent in federal match dollars for transit systems to develop and carry out state safety oversight programs. State oversight will include review, approval and enforcement of transit agency safety plans, including audits by the Federal Transit Administration.

* It scraps at attempt to eliminate overtime and minimum wage provisions for van drivers whose routes cross state lines.

* It strengthens Buy America requirements for all new bus and passenger-rail rolling stock and other capital expenditures, which means more American jobs.

* It leaves in place a requirement that positive train control be implemented on all track carrying passenger rail — commuter and Amtrak — by Dec. 31, 2015. It does, however, reduce the PTC installation requirement for freight railroads, providing that PTC to be installed on fewer than 40 percent of main line trackage by Dec. 31, 2015, with 60 percent (freight only trackage) continuing to use existing train control systems.

* Importantly, it does not include a provision sought by conservatives that would have blocked federal funds for operation of Amtrak’s long-distance trains in 27 states, nor does it include a provision that would have had the same effect by denying federal funds for subsidizing food and beverage service on long-distance trains.

* Also, on the positive side for Amtrak, it provides a new federal grant program to improve or preserve Amtrak routes exceeding 750 miles, and it makes Amtrak eligible for other federal grants on corridor routes and funds intended to help ease highway congestion. Other Amtrak operating and capital grants are provided in separate legislation.

* A provision that originated in the Senate to eliminate almost 75 percent of Alaska Railroad federal funding and the $6 million in congestion and air quality mitigation funding for Amtrak’s Downeaster train in New England was amended. The Alaska Railroad funding now will be cut by 13 percent in each of the next two years by applying a new funding formula, and the air quality mitigation funding will continue for the Downeaster.

* It does not increase weight and length limits for trucks on federal aid highways – which would adversely impact rail traffic and rail jobs – but does allow an extension for current higher weights on some highway corridors while another study on the impact of liberalizing truck weight and length limits is conducted.

“Even though it has shortcomings from what we would have preferred, our members are better off with the compromise. Had there been no bill, we may have faced the undermining of public transportation by conservatives who want to push public transportation’s expense to the fare box and those who can least afford it,” said UTU National Legislative Director James Stem.

The Federal Transit Administration has created a website to provide more information on MAP-21. Click below to view the website:

http://www.fta.dot.gov/map21/