Excessively Long and Heavy Trains Opposed by Railroad Workers’ Group
“Railroad Workers United (RWU) has embarked upon a campaign to limit the length and tonnage of freight trains across North America. The goal is to reverse the long running trend whereby the rail carriers assemble ever longer and heavier trains which are dangerous to railroad workers, pedestrians and motorists, trackside communities, the environment, and society in general.” This is what a recent news release says, issued by Railroad Workers United.
RWU goes on to say, in spite of the number of long and heavy train wrecks last year, rail carriers continue to operate long and heavy trains and in fact even expand upon this trend, in attempts to improve the bottom line. The organization points out it takes longer to stop such trains, and the longer and heavier the train, the greater the potential for a train break-in-two, emergency brake applications and derailments. Longer and heavier trains result in more severe train wrecks if and when such trains derail, long trains are more likely to have air brake problems, and it’s more difficult for train crews to safely run, inspect, work and test such trains. Road and pedestrian crossings are more likely to be blocked by longer and heavier trains, causing inconvenience and increased emergency services response times. Such trains also tend to increase the number of hours train crews must spend getting the trains in and out of the terminal and over the road, all of which increase crew fatigue, reduce situational awareness, and lower quality of work and home life for engineers and trainmen.
The news release concludes, “Therefore, RWU opposes any expansion of the current length and tonnage of existing trains. Furthermore, we support a reduction in the length and tonnage of already existing trains, especially those hauling hazardous materials, traversing steep grades and/or operating in very cold temperatures. We expect that these goals can be achieved through both legislative efforts and at the bargaining table.”
RWU is an organization that works to unite railroad workers from all the rail crafts in North America. To quote from their website, “…we have formed this inter-union, cross-craft, solidarity “caucus” of railroad workers from all crafts, all carriers, and all unions across North America.” The RWU works to strengthen the bargaining position of railroad workers and to enhance working conditions, including the safety of railroad workers and the public. More information is available on the RWU website.
Railroaded believes no one is more aware of rail safety hazards, nor is more qualified to suggest improvements, than those who work on the railroads. Hopefully, rail companies at the corporate level will heed the suggestions of experienced railroad workers, as represented by Railroad Workers United.