Editor’s Note: Here is the text of a resolution passed by the Steering Committee of Railroad Workers United (RWU) on 03/01/2023. Labor United Educational League stands in solidarity with the fight of all rail workers & RWU on their fight for safe working conditions.
Whereas rail carriers have consistently over the years increased the size of trains while disregarding the limitations of technology and infrastructure largely unimproved for decades; and
Whereas longer, heavier trains create much higher buff and draft forces during, what would otherwise be a minor derailment event, which can then lead to a major catastrophic event; and
Whereas many potential problems cannot be identified and corrected by the onboard crew due of the length of these trains; and
Whereas these trains carry cargo that carries the potential to cause mass casualty events due to their volatility and toxicity; and
Whereas the US rail industry has spent far more on share buyback programs every year than on the infrastructure expected to handle these long, dangerous trains; and
Whereas the railroads have drastically cut car repair staff, creating shorter and less thorough inspections of the rail cars expected to be handled in these long, dangerous trains; and
Whereas the railroad industry has actively worked to eliminate regulation which would have required a more modern braking system to reduce in-train-forces in a derailment, as well as in daily operations; and
Whereas the reliability and effectiveness of the conventional braking system trains use is reduced greatly when it is subjected to excessive train lengths, especially in cold weather; and
Whereas the railroads have shown zero regard for public safety or inconvenience at crossings, while conducting unregulated experiments on our communities by running trains of essentially unlimited length; and
Whereas railroads effectively surrendered any regulatory autonomy when they merged to become regulated monopolies subject to common carrier obligations;
Therefore be it Resolved, that RWU demands that railroad safety regulators act immediately to set temporary maximum safe train lengths, that account for dangerous slack events occurring during a derailment, as well as to significantly reduce such incidents; and
Be it Further Resolved that RWU demands that a set of permanent train length regulations be implemented within a reasonable time which establishes federal safe train lengths for conventional, DPU, Hazmat, ECP and Non-ECP brake equipped trains; and
Be it Finally Resolved that RWU demands that regulators establish a permanent regulation that requires trains defined as “Key Trains” under hazardous material regulations to be equipped with operative ECP braking systems.
Adopted by the RWU Steering Committee 3/1/2023