WASHINGTON, DC -- Citizens for Rail Safety, Inc. (CRS) presented a National Rail Safety Symposium on Nov. 15 at The National Press Club in Washington, DC. The program featured a panel discussion on the safety of our railways with industry experts, political leaders and transportation scholars.


Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), member of the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging Threats and International Relations, author of the Rail Worker Emergency Training Act, and a keynote speaker for the morning along with Congressman Bennie Thompson (D-MS) stressed the need for training during a time of heightened security:


"Five years after September 11th, and following terrorist attacks against railways in Madrid, London and Mumbai, the United States has still not taken meaningful steps to educate the riding public in rail security awareness.  We have not adopted adequate measures to secure and monitor our rail stations and train platforms; and we have not trained our rail workers adequately in terrorism evacuation and HazMat response.  Given the known pattern of terrorist activity, it is simply inexcusable.  There are cost-effective steps we can take right now to heighten security and preparedness on our railways, and I am grateful to the Citizens for Rail Safety and the Teamsters Rail Security Conference for pushing to implement those proposals," said Congressman Lynch.


"Every day our railways transport more than one million tons of hazardous materials, passing by American schools, homes and communities,” said Patricia Abbate, executive director of CRS. "This Symposium brought together leaders in the field to discuss the problems, but more importantly to discuss potential solutions.”


As part of the Symposium, professors of The National Labor College released the findings of a CRS commissioned study on the need for Hazmat training. "With approximately two million rail shipments of hazardous materials and hundreds of toxic releases each year, there is a compelling need to ensure that rail workers, emergency responders, and community residents are well-trained and well-educated," said Dr. Ruth Ruttenberg of the National Labor College. "This study addresses the current status of rail hazardous materials training and what is needed to adequately prepare for both prevention and response.”


CRS, a national non-profit public interest organization comprised of transportation consultants and concerned citizens advocating for national railroad safety and efficiency, is a member-supported organization. Membership is open to all citizens who feel that safe rail transportation is no longer a goal for the railroad industry, but is an obligation. Since its inception in 2005, CRS has commissioned two white papers, with another two underway. To learn more about CRS visit www.citizensforrailsafety.org.