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March 26, 2009


The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a public Board meeting on its investigation of a collision of Amtrak (National Railroad Passenger Corporation) and Norfolk Southern Railway Company (Norfolk Southern) trains near Chicago, Illinois on Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 9:30 a.m.,in its Board Room and Conference Center, 429 L'Enfant Plaza, S.W., Washington, D.C.

On Friday, November 30, 2007, about 11:23 a.m., CST, Amtrak passenger train 371, consisting of one locomotive and three passenger cars, struck the rear of standing Norfolk Southern freight train 23M.  The forward portion of the Amtrak locomotive came to rest on top of a container on the rear car of the freight train.  Sixty-six passengers and 5 crewmembers were transported to hospitals; 2 passengers and 1 crewmember were admitted.

A live and archived webcast of the proceedings will be available on the Board's website at Technical support details are available under "Board Meetings." To report any problems, please call 703-993-3100 and ask for Webcast Technical Support.


March 26, 2009

CSXT To Play a Role in New York State High-Speed Rail

ALBANY - A major railroad company has agreed to play an active role in making high-speed rail transportation a reality in New York state, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Wednesday, according to the Schenectady Daily Gazette.

Schumer met with Michael Ward, CSX Corp. chief executive officer, on Wednesday in Washington to discuss the state’s new rail master plan and to encourage CSX to be an active partner in the plan. CSX, a national transportation company, owns the rights of way along the Empire railroad corridor that runs from Buffalo to Schenectady to Albany and Rensselaer and down to New York City.

 The state’s new railroad master plan, unveiled two weeks ago at the Albany-Rensselaer Amtrak station, calls for a third rail track along this corridor for a high-speed passenger train that would reach speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. "Because they own the rights of way, CSX’s participation is fundamental to building a better, faster and more reliable passenger rail system from Niagara to Albany and beyond," said Schumer, D-N.Y., in a statement.

 He said Ward "indicated a willingness to work with the state so that all parties will benefit from an upgrade to high-speed passenger rail."  Locally, the railroad project, which would be funded through some of the $8 billion in federal stimulus money set aside nationally for high-speed rail, would include a second set of railroad tracks between Schenectady and Rensselaer. These tracks would make both freight and passenger rail transportation between the two stations faster and more efficient, officials say.

 Schumer said he considered eliminating the bottleneck between Schenectady and Albany to be a priority, Schumer spokesman Max Young said. Charles Carrier, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said it’s very encouraging to have both state and federal support for a high-speed rail system that would improve both rail passenger and rail freight transportation in the state.  He said it’s also encouraging to have CSX indicate that it will be an active partner in the railroad initiative. He said the state, CSX, Amtrak and federal officials have to work together on the railway plan to make it happen.

 Carrier said the rail lines between Schenectady and Buffalo do a "huge" amount of freight business. He said a third rail line is needed along this corridor for a high-speed passenger line. The third track would also provide more flexibility and faster transport for freight cars on the other two tracks by removing passenger trains from the lines. "It would give greater efficiency to freight operations," Carrier said.

 The state DOT commissioned a study to assess t he feasibility of adding a third, dedicated track for passenger rail along the existing tracks of the 430-mile Empire Corridor. This resulted in the state’s first rail plan in 22 years. Marissa Shorenstein, a spokeswoman for Gov. David Paterson, said Wednesday that the rail plan is necessary to qualify for some of the $8 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act stimulus money that is intended to pay for high-speed railroad projects across the United States.

 Ward told Schumer on Wednesday his company was willing to work with the state but noted that the "planning stages are still in their infancy." Schumer said he will convene future meetings of every involved party as "a way to ensure that everyone is clear on what needs to be done to bring high-speed rail to upstate New York."

 (This item appeared March 26, 2009, in the Daily Gazette)


March 26, 2009


American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

WASHINGTON—Amtrak has released a list of capital projects to be funded by $1.3 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  Submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration, the highlights of the list include railcar and locomotive restoration to augment the current fleet, projects to bring stations into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), facility improvements, track, bridge and signal replacements and upgrades.     

“These Amtrak projects fulfill all of the objectives of the ARRA, and more.  They are ‘shovel-ready;’ they will improve the efficiency and accessibility of Amtrak trains and facilities; and we estimate they will result in the retention or creation of approximately 6,000 jobs,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joseph H. Boardman. “It is extremely encouraging to see the direction our country is taking to improve our national mobility, reduce our dependence on imported energy and make a stronger, healthier passenger rail system.” 

The investment package is broken down into two separate accounts: one for railroad and station capital projects funded at $845 million and one for security and life safety projects, funded at $450 million.  For a detailed list of projects, go to and click on “Inside Amtrak,” then “Other Reports.”  Further information on how contractors and suppliers can contact the railroad about bidding on those projects that contain outsourcing elements will be available on soon.

Following are examples – not a comprehensive list – of some of the projects to be performed with ARRA funding.  

Railcars and locomotives

Amtrak shops in Beech Grove, Ind., will rebuild 20 out-of-service Superliner and one Viewliner railcar ($19.3 million) and 15 locomotives ($13 million) and the Amtrak shops in Bear, Del, will rebuild 60 out-of-service Amfleet railcars ($58.5 million).  This equipment can be used throughout the Amtrak system.

ADA Compliance

More than 200 stations in 40 states will receive needed upgrades and improve accessibility for disabled persons ($40 million).

Other station projects

Replacement of the existing Auto Train passenger station in Sanford, Fla., ($10 million) will be carried out, and the Wilmington, Del., station will receive more than $20 million for renovation.

Amtrak-owned bridges, track and maintenance facilities

This includes major investments such as the Niantic River Bridge replacement in Connecticut ($100 million), the renewal of 10 other bridges in Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York ($65 million), construction of a maintenance facility in Los Angeles ($25 million) and Seattle ($35 million), improvements to the Chicago facilities ($47.5 million) and the Miami (Hialeah) maintenance facility ($25 million). 

Security and life safety investments 

The $450 million Security and Safety fund will be used for investments in security measures that reduce infrastructure vulnerabilities and enhance incident management at Amtrak facilities nationwide, including stations, bridges, tunnels, maintenance facilities and other buildings.  

Enhancements to safety installations include projects such as fire detection and suppression systems and improved emergency egress from buildings and tunnels.  Projects in this category also involve expansion of Positive Train Control safety systems in the Northeast Corridor ($50 million) and Michigan ($10 million). 

(Source: Amtrak Press Release)

March 25, 2009 (Wall Street Journal)

Specter Turns His Back on Labor

WASHINGTON -- A key moderate Republican senator said Tuesday (March 24) he wouldn't support a bill that would make it easier for labor unions to organize in the workplace, potentially putting the bill in peril in the Senate, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said he wouldn't support a vote allowing debate in the Senate on the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that Democrats hope would remove obstacles preventing unions from forming. Specter said on the floor of the Senate that a secret ballot is "the cornerstone of how contests are decided in a democratic society" and that requirements in the bill for compulsory arbitration "may subject the employer to a deal he or she cannot live with."

 The bill would compel business owners to recognize unions once more than 50% of workers agree to form one. Currently, owners have the right to demand that a secret-ballot election is held before a union is recognized. Specter said that instead of passing the legislation, labor's power could be expanded by giving unions other new powers in collective bargaining. Specter acknowledged that he is considered a key vote on the measure and could have tipped the balance and helped Democrats to pass the bill. "It is an anguishing position, but we play the cards we're dealt," Specter said. Specter's decision not to support the bill could jeopardize its passage in the Senate.

 The matter is shaping up to be the primary battle between labor unions and business groups, both of which are applying significant pressure to moderate lawmakers over their vote on the bill. Senate Democrats have already said that they intend to wait until the outcome in the contested Senate race in Minnesota is determined before they move to bring the legislation forward. They expect that Al Franken will ultimately defeat incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., in the contest, giving them one more vote they can count on to support the Free Choice Act.

 Controversial legislation needs a 60-vote supermajority in the Senate to overcome delaying tactics employed by the minority. With Franken, the Democrats would have 59 votes, assuming they can hang on to all of their caucus. Specter is one of a small group of moderate Republicans that the Democrats could reasonably hope to sway on the issue.

 Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday that he was unfazed by Specter's decision, saying the Democrats have other Republicans they can try to bring to their side over the issue. He said that Specter was trying to avoid a potentially messy primary fight when he seeks re-election in 2010.

 A second part of the labor legislation would require owners and unions to submit to binding arbitration if, 120 days after a union is formed, the two sides can't agree to an initial contract. Another part of the bill would strengthen penalties against employers seen to be trying to intimidate workers who are trying to organize a union.


March 20, 2009

UTU's Joe Szabo Tapped by President Obama for FRA

WASHINGTON - President Obama on March 18 announced his intent to nominate UTU Illinois State Legislative Director Joe Szabo to head the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).The formal nomination is expected to be sent to the Senate in the next few days. The Senate Commerce Committee will then schedule a confirmation hearing. A favorable recommendation on the nomination will send it to the Senate floor for a confirmation vote. If confirmed, Szabo, age 51, would become the 13th FRA administrator since its founding as a Department of Transportation agency in 1967. The FRA administers and enforces federal rail safety laws and writes and enforces federal rail safety regulations.

UTU International President Mike Futhey, in congratulating Szabo, observed that Szabo is “the first FRA administrator to come out of the ranks of rail labor. It is a validation that this Obama administration is a friend of organized labor."  Szabo is a fifth-generation railroader. He hired out with the Illinois Central (now part of Canadian National) in 1976, where he worked as a yard switchman, road trainman and commuter passenger conductor. In 1987, he went to Chicago Metra when IC sold its rail commuter division.

In 1984, Szabo was elected secretary/treasurer of UTU Local 1290, progressing to delegate and legislative representative. In 1992, he was elected vice chairperson of the Illinois State Legislative Board, and in 1996 elected state legislative director. He also has been serving as a vice president of the Illinois AFL-CIO. He also has represented the UTU on the FRA’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee, where he participated in the drafting of rail safety regulations.

In making the announcement, President Obama said that as the UTU’s Illinois state legislative director, "Joe has provided vision and direction to rail safety and regulatory issues and worked with business and civic leaders in the advancement of freight and passenger rail service."  Obama also noted that Szabo had served as mayor of the Village of Riverdale -- a Chicago suburb -- "where he managed more than 100 employees and a budget of $9 million serving 15,000 residents."  The Senate's assistant majority leader, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), said of the Szabo nomination, "I look forward to working with him to address our nation's next round of rail innovation." 

A week ago, Obama named Karen J. Rae, a transportation executive with nearly 30 years' state and regional experience, as the FRA’s deputy administrator. That position does not require Senate confirmation and she will begin work later this month. Rae is currently deputy commissioner for policy and planning of the New York State DOT, a post she has held since June 2007, with responsibility for rail, aviation, and public transportation.

Her experience includes deputy secretary for local and area transportation at PennDOT, director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation, and general manager for the Austin, Texas, Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Earlier in her career, Rae was a ticket sales and tour representative for Adirondack Trailways, whose bus operators and mechanics are represented by the UTU.  In 2006, the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper said of Rae: "She is also known for taking a tough stand with CSX Corp., the Florida-based railroad that owns the tracks that run through the heart of Virginia. Rae said she was ‘disappointed and frustrated’ with CSX’s foot-dragging in starting a $65.7 million upgrade funded by the state. Her outspokenness led to a meeting between CSX’s top executives, who apologized to then-Gov. Mark Warner."  Rae earned a B.S. in education from East Stroudsburg State College in Pennsylvania.


March 17, 2009 

President & CEO Boardman Speaks on Amtrak Spending Decisions

Following an infusion of $1.3 billion in capital (over and above the $13 billion over five years authorized last year) and indirect access to $8 billion in state-administered funds under President Obama’s economic stimulus program, Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman is faced with determining how best to invest this near-windfall within a relatively short time frame. So reports Railway Age magazine. “We have to deliver the things people expect — now,” Boardman said in a March 12 meeting with the Railway Supply Institute Passenger Transportation Committee.

Federal Railroad Administration stimulus package language stipulates that projects falling under Amtrak’s $1.3 billion portion must be completed by February 2011. Given the long-term nature of rail capital projects, Amtrak wants to clarify whether “completed” means “substantially completed” or “finished,” Boardman said. The $8 billion, whether or not some of it goes to an Amtrak project (for example, upgrading New York State’s entire Empire Corridor to 110 mph), must be spent within three years, according to the guidelines ..

Amtrak’s needs, Boardman said, cover the spectrum from short-term to wish-list, so some programs will fall under economic stimulus, others under general capital outlays. There’s an immediate need to replace aging Heritage Fleet baggage cars and diners, using the existing Viewliner platform. Amfleet, the durable stainless-steel single-level cars that have served Amtrak well for the better part of 40 years, can be refurbished yet again, but they will eventually need replacement.

GE P40 diesel locomotives need rebuilding, and the Northeast Corridor’s reliable but aging AEM7 electric locomotive fleet needs replacement. Amtrak will be applying for a federal loan to replace the AEM7s. High speed Acela Express train sets are now 10 years old and will soon need refurbishment.

Boardman mentioned “next-generation Acela” services, in terms of both equipment and infrastructure. Trip times on the south (New York-Washington) end of the Northeast Corridor could be=2 0reduced to two hours, 15 minutes with constant-tension catenary capable of supporting speeds above 150 mph, rebuilding of the notoriously slow tunnel approaches to Baltimore Penn Station, curve realignment in some areas, and numerous other improvements whose effect would be cumulative.

Longer-term, Boardman said NEC electrification could be extended as far south as Richmond, Va., and the State of Virginia would support that. Ideally, a larger portion of the Atlantic seaboard from Maine to Virginia is a good candidate for electrification and high speed rail service.

Boardman said that the $8 billion in state-administered stimulus funds designated for high speed rail would be best-spent on improvements to existing freight/passenger corridors to enable higher-speed service (110 mph). He said that reducing trip time between city pairs is a far more important consideration than top speed.

Higher-speed rail, he said, “is competitive and realistic.” Maglev isn’t. Already, said Boardman, “serious discussions” are taking place with Illinois, Missouri, and Wisconsin about developing the Chicago-St. Louis and Chicago-Milwaukee corridors, both of which are part of the Midwest High Speed Rail initiative.

 Other states have passenger rail plans in various development stages. For example, the 245-mile Atlanta-Charlotte corridor (over Norfolk Southern) is served by one train per day, the Crescent. It’s a six-hour trip that takes place during the night. Replacing the short-haul flights between those cities—and all the hassles involved with air travel—with convenient, downtown-to-downtown higher-speed rail service, would reduce airport congestion and offer business travelers a much more comfortable, productive trip. Atlanta-Charlotte is part of NS’s Crescent Corridor, a public-private partnership to increase freight rail capacity in the Southeast.

 Given the broad scope of national intercity passenger rail needs and the intense competition for funds, $8 billion won’t go very far, Boardman said. Not clear at this point is whether the stimulus funding is a “down payment” on an extended period of national passenger rail development, or a one-shot infusion of capital.

Though Northeast Corridor ridership has dipped (Boardman attributes this to a decline in business travel caused by the recession), ridership on Amtrak’s long-distance trains has increased, compensating for the downturn in NEC revenues.

Amtrak carried nearly 29 million passengers in 2008, the highest number ever in its 38-year history, and the numbers are expected to grow, perhaps to as high as 35 million annually. Long-distance services, Boardman said, “look very solid, and it’s important to consider them within the context of surface transportation connectivity of all modes.”

“Amtrak must be ready to provide more service when the economy starts moving again,” Boardman said. With that in mind, a consistent, dependable source of annual capital is needed. “We can deal with having to ask Congress every year for operating support,” he said. Capital funding shouldn’t be subject to that process, and Boardman hopes that changes will be made to that effect by law makers.

(Published March 17, 2009, Railway Age Magazine.)

March 13, 2009

Vice President Biden, Railroad Administrator, Members of Congress

Announce Funding for Amtrak in Recovery Act

Washington, DC – Standing at Washington, DC’s Union Station, one of the most traveled railway stations in the nation, Vice President Joe Biden announced that Amtrak will receive $1.3 billion in grant funding from the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to expand passenger rail capacity.  He was joined by Jo Strang, Acting Federal Railroad Administrator, along with several members of Congress, including: Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA); Senator John Kerry (D-MA); Senator John D. Rockefeller, IV (D-W.Va); Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL); Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ); Senator Ted Kaufman (D-DE);  Congressman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.); Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL); Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD); Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA); Congressman Christopher Carney (D-PA); and Congressman Andre Carson (D-IN).  

“Over 28 million passengers ride Amtrak each year. That’s about 500,000 passengers a week – or 80,000 a day,” said Vice President Biden.  “For too long, we haven’t made the investments we needed to make Amtrak as safe, as reliable, as secure as it can be.  That ends now.  The funds in the Recovery Act for Amtrak will help create jobs and at the same time, repair and update critical needs of our nation’s infrastructure.” 

 “This is the Obama Administration keeping its promise to America,” said Secretary LaHood.  “We are investing in jobs that will allow Amtrak to add and modernize cars and engines and upgrade its tracks.  We are getting transportation money to Americans quickly in order to get the American economy going again.”  ARRA funding will roughly double the size of Amtrak’s capital investment program over a two-year period.  It will be used to upgrade railroad assets and infrastructure and for capital projects that expand passenger rail capacity.

 Among the improvement projects that will be undertaken are replacement of a major drawbridge on the Northeast Corridor (NEC),repairs to Amtrak facilities nationwide, the repair and return to service of nearly 70 stored and damaged passenger cars, and the rehabilitation of major elements of the NEC electrification system. Repairs to passenger cars will be performed at Amtrak’s facilities in Beech Grove, Indiana, and Bear, Delaware, where Amtrak plans to hire skilled workers laid off from jobs at recently shuttered manufacturing facilities located nearby.

 In addition to helping Amtrak achieve a state of good repair for its critical infrastructure and assets, the projects to be funded through the ARRA will result in tangible benefits to Amtrak’s passengers, including increased capacity (with fewer sold-out trains), improved operational reliability, and increased passenger comfort and accessibility at stations.  Refurbished rolling stock that is returned to service may also be available for use on new State-supported routes. 

 The Vice President also noted that Amtrak’s hiring for ARRA projects represents a major investment not just in infrastructure, but also in the railroad’s employees.  As a large portion of Amtrak’s skilled workforce nears retirement age, workers hired for ARRA projects will be trained and ready to step in to a long-term role on the railroad.

 The economic recovery funds will be managed through a formal grant agreement between the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Amtrak, consistent with ARRA transparency and accountability requirements, including those related to job creation, assisting those areas most impacted by the recession, making investments that increase economic efficiency and provide long-term economic benefits.  The grant agreement will also ensure timely expenditure of the funding within two years and ensure that Amtrak complies with newly established financial, operational, and customer service standards.

 Click here for more information on the impact the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will have on passenger railroads.

 Examples of Amtrak Projects to be Funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)

Replacement of the movable bridge over the Niantic River on the Northeast Corridor in Connecticut - $105 million.  In the largest single Amtrak project to be funded through the Recovery Act, Amtrak will replace the 102-year-old drawbridge which carries the Northeast Corridor over the Niantic River near East Lyme, Connecticut.  The replacement of this aging bridge has been planned for over 20 years, but has been repeatedly deferred due to a lack of capital funding for Amtrak.  Any further delay in replacing the bridge would result in the imposition of significant speed restrictions over the bridge (with resulting increases to passenger’s travel times), and potentially a major disruption to passenger rail service between New York and Boston were the bridge’s moving machinery to fail in the open position.  Amtrak estimates that the bridge replacement will result in 860 person-years of work for those directly employed in the bridge construction.                                                                                                           

Rehabilitating and returning to service 68 stored or damaged passenger cars - $82 million.  With $82 million in Recovery Act funding, Amtrak with rehabilitate and return to service 68 passenger cars that are have long been in storage due to damage and lack of funding for necessary repairs.  Once returned to service, many of the cars (which include among them both corridor and long-distance equipment types) will be used to alleviate capacity constraints on heavily-traveled trains, while others may be made available for new State-supported Amtrak services. The cars will be repaired at Amtrak’s maintenance of equipment facilities in Beech Grove, Indiana and Bear, Delaware, both located near recently closed manufacturing facilities in areas that have been hard hit by the economic downturn.  Amtrak anticipates hiring 125 workers to work on this project. 

Rehabilitation of the Lamokin frequency converters in Chester, Pennsylvania - $63 million.  Using $63 million in Recovery Act funding, Amtrak will entirely rebuild three rotary frequency converters, which form a key element of the power supply system for the Northeast Corridor, located in Chester, Pennsylvania.  Known as the “Lamokin Converters,” they were placed in service in the 1920's as part of the Pennsylvania Railroad's electrification of its mainline between Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware (on what has since become Amtrak's Northeast Corridor (NEC)).  Since that time, the three 16 megawatt motor-generator sets located at the site have been in continuous use to convert commercial electric power, which operates at 60 Hertz alternating current, to the 25 Hertz alternating current that powers Amtrak and commuter trains along the NEC south of New York City.   

After over 80 years of continuous use, the Lamokin frequency converters are in dire need of major rehabilitation to ensure their future reliability.  As demonstrated by the power outages that crippled Amtrak and commuter rail service in the Northeast on several occasions in 2006 (the causes of which were traced to frequency converting equipment), the reliable supply of electric power is essential to the NEC remaining one of the county's most energy-efficient examples of transportation infrastructure.  Through this project, the three rotary converters will be entirely rebuilt with rewound motor coils, new stator coils, and new collector rings, allowing them to continue to serve passengers on the NEC for generations to come.  Amtrak estimates that the project will result in 504 person-years of work for those directly employed in the rehabilitation of the frequency converters. 

Repairs to Amtrak facilities nationwide - $105 million.  In the most wide-reaching of Amtrak’s Recovery Act-funded projects, dozens of aging Amtrak facilities throughout the country will be the target of significant repairs, such as roof replacements, plumbing repairs, heating and air conditioning improvements.  Throughout the recent history of inadequate capital funding for Amtrak, these projects, which include work on stations, maintenance facilities, crew facilities, and warehouses, have been repeatedly deferred due to more pressing investment requirements.  The additional capital funding provided through the Recovery Act will allow these projects (plans for many of which have been sitting on the shelf for years) to move forward quickly.  Amtrak anticipates using local contractors throughout the country to perform this work, resulting in an estimated 860 person-years of work. 

Restoration of the Wilmington, Delaware station - $21 million. With $21 million in Recovery Act funding, plus additional funding from the State of Delaware and other sources, Amtrak will make restorations to Wilmington, Delaware’s historic century-old Victorian train station.  The project will incorporate the rebuilding and restoration of the interior of the station buildings, improvements to make the buildings entirely accessible for those with disabilities, restoration of the building's terracotta façade, and the replacement of the track and supporting infrastructure which runs through the station.  In addition to increasing comfort and convenience for passengers using Amtrak’s eleventh busiest station, the project includes the construction of a third high-level platform, which will significantly increase the capacity of the station.  Amtrak estimates that the project will result in 168 person-years of work for those directly employed in the restoration of the station.                      

Construction of a new station for the Auto Train in Sanford, Florida - $10.5 million.  With $10.5 million in Recovery Act funding, Amtrak will construct a new station at the Auto-Train’s southern terminus in Sanford, Florida.  The Auto Train, one of Amtrak’s best performing long-distance services, and one of the nation’s most innovative forms of intermodal passenger transportation, transports passenger together with their private automobiles non-stop from Lorton, Virginia (15 miles south of Washington, DC), to Central Florida.  The new station will replace temporary facilities that have been in place since the destruction of much of the previous station by the 2005 hurricanes, and will provide Auto Train passengers with a more comfortable waiting area and allow for faster, more efficient boarding operations.  Amtrak estimates that the project will result in 84 person-years of work for those directly employed in the construction of the new station.  

Installation of Positive Train Control on the Amtrak-owned Michigan Line (Porter, Indiana – Kalamazoo, Michigan) and the south-end of the Northeast Corridor (New York – Washington).  Amtrak will invest $60 million in Recovery Act funding in installing Positive Train Control (PTC) on its Porter, Indiana to Kalamazoo, Michigan line (used by Chicago – Detroit trains) and on the south-end of the Northeast Corridor (between New York and Washington).  PTC is an advanced signaling technology that can prevent train-to-train collisions, over-speed derailments, train incursions into roadway work zones, and movement over switches improperly lined.  The installation of PTC by 2015 on all routes used by intercity passenger trains is mandated by the recently enacted Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008.  The Recovery Act funding will allow for the acceleration of the installation of PTC on lines owned by Amtrak, and will result in an immediate safety benefit, along with potential trip-time reductions where the advanced signaling system will allow for increased speeds


The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen is conducting a random survey of its membership in preparation for the upcoming round of national contract negotiations.

The six-page survey seeks membership input on a variety of issues and will provide the National Division with demographic information for analysis of the returns.

Section 6 of the Railway Labor Act requires that the company and/or the union provide advance notification of their intent to engage in contract negotiations. This notification is commonly referred to as a Section 6 notice. The BLET is eligible to serve its Section 6 notices on the carriers regarding a new National Agreement and a new Agreement with Amtrak beginning November 1, 2009.

The written survey was mailed to 2,000 randomly selected members on March 10. In addition, the National Division is conducting an identical online survey in the Members' Area of the BLET website. Members chosen for the random survey are not eligible to participate in the online survey.

The survey is located on the BLET website at:


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