Congressman Lynch Introduces Legislation To Prepare Rail Workers To Respond To A Terrorist Attack Or Natural Disaster

Jan 6, 2005

Congressman Stephen F. Lynch today introduced the "Rail Worker Emergency Training Act of 2005,” (H.R. 4372) legislation that would establish a comprehensive emergency training program for all rail workers. Lynch filed his bill in response to reports that an overwhelming majority of surveyed rail workers indicated that America’s railroads are still highly vulnerable to a terrorist attack, natural disaster, and other emergencies due to a number of security gaps and lack of training.

In September, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Rail Security Conference issued a unique rail security report entitled "High Alert:Workers Warn of Security Gaps on Nation’s Railroads.”The report was based on over 4,000 surveys completed by members of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED).According to the report, there is a significant lack of adequate rail worker training; the report reveals that 84% of the rail workers surveyed indicated that they had not received any or additional terrorism prevention and response training within the last 12 months; 99% reported that they had not received specific training related to the monitoring of nuclear waste shipments; and 62% indicated that they had not been trained on their role in their railroad’s Emergency Action Plan or Emergency Response Plan.

Congressman Lynch has been a leader on the issue of rail security in the 109th Congress.Earlier this year, Lynch introduced the "Rail Transit Safety and Security Act of 2005,” legislation that would overhaul training for rail workers, expand safety and communications systems, and improve emergency preparedness of America’s rail networks and personnel.Because the Republican leadership has refused to take up the bill, Lynch introduced the new legislation that focuses on those provisions that improve training for rail workers.

"Four years after September 11th, two years after the Madrid bombings, and six months after the bombings in London, the United States has still not taken the necessary steps to improve rail security,” said Congressman Lynch."Our rail workers haven’t received terrorism prevention and response training, and we are wholly unprepared to prevent and respond to a terrorist attack or disaster on the rails.It’s inexcusable.This is a low-cost, and enormously effective step we can take to heighten security and preparedness on our railways.It’s a matter of common sense.”

 

The Rail Worker Emergency Training Act of 2005 would:

  • Require the Secretary of Homeland Security, within 90 days of enactment, to establish comprehensive guidelines for a rail worker emergency training program.The Secretary’s guidelines must address several key areas, including critical infrastructure and equipment security inspection, hazardous material storage, transport, and monitoring, unauthorized rail yard access, locomotive cab securement, and evacuation procedures in the event of fire or natural disaster.
  • Require the Secretary to consult with the Secretary of Transportation and "appropriate rail entities,” including, freight and passenger railroad carriers, rail worker unions, public safety officials, and State Departments of Transportations.
  • Require rail carriers to develop a rail worker training program based on the Secretary’s guidelines and to train all of their rail workers within 1 year.
  • Authorize the Secretary to issue letters of noncompliance – to be published in the Federal Register – to any carrier that fails to comply with the Act’s requirements.
  • Appropriate 100 million dollars to the Secretary to carry out the act.  

 

Lynch added, "There are five times as many people who travel by train as compared to those who use airplanes. But since September 11th, the United States has spent 60 times more dollars on airline security than on rail security.Many of our rail systems have emergency response plans, but they’re worthless if rail workers don’t know they exist.It’s time to establish clear guidelines for emergency training, and prepare our rail workers to respond to a terrorist attack.”

This week, Lynch’s legislation received letters of support from both the Teamsters Rail Security Conference and Transport Workers Union of America.

 

If you would like to read the full text of the Teamsters Rail Conference’s Railroad Security Report ("High Alert: Workers Warn of Security Gaps on Nation’s Railroads”), click here.

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