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Groups In Queen City Fight To Stop Privatization Of Railroad

Railroad Workers United is working with local organizations to keep the nation's only municipally owned interstate mainline freight railroad in public hands. The Cincinnati Southern was chartered and built by the City of Cincinnati in the 19th century and has been run successfully for well over a century, historically being leased to a designated operator. Now, today's operator Norfolk Southern wants to take over the infrastructure outright. Citizens across the Queen City are organizing to maintain ownership and control of their railroad. Railroad workers stand with them in their struggle! As the November 7th vote nears, more and more citizens are questioning the wisdom of turning over the city's mainline freight artery between Cincinnati and Chattanooga to corporate outlaw Norfolk Southern.

BLET Engineers Unanimously Endorse Strike At NJ Transit

Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) members who work at New Jersey Transit last week voted unanimously to authorize a strike. Five hundred locomotive engineers employed by NJ Transit received strike ballots in August. Voting results show 81% of the eligible 494 union members cast ballots and all of them favor a strike, BLET officials said in a press release. NJ Transit recently announced plans to spend more than $440 million to lease luxury office space, which has infuriated many BLET members, they said. “The agency has millions for penthouse views, but not a dime for train crews who kept the trains running throughout the worst days of the pandemic, and haven’t had a raise since 2019," said BLET National President Eddie Hall.

Biden Announces Deal Connecting Europe And West And South Asia

US President Joe Biden announced a multinational rail and ports deal linking Europe, West Asia, and South Asia on 9 September at a gathering on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi. The deal, known as the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), comes as the White House seeks to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Russia and Iran’s North-South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) by pitching Washington as an alternative partner and investor for developing countries. A memorandum of understanding for the deal was signed by the European Union, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the US, and other G20 partners.

PHMSA To Suspend LNG-By-Rail Rule For Further Study

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in coordination with the Federal Railroad Administration, has issued a final rule that suspends a Trump administration rule that would have allowed liquefied natural gas (LNG) transportation by rail. The rule had been on hold after environmental groups and 14 states filed lawsuits to challenge it. However, it will be officially suspended so that the safety of LNG-by-rail can be furthered tested and studied, according to a PHMSA notice published today in the Federal Register. Uncertainty over the rule, which would have required the use of specialized rail tank cars to transport LNG, also has kept companies from investing in such rail cars, according to PHMSA.

Railroads Seek Permission For Autonomous Container Car Tests

Savannah, Ga. — Two Genesee & Wyoming short lines in Georgia today asked the Federal Railroad Administration to allow them to conduct a pilot program that would test Parallel Systems’ zero-emission autonomous container cars. The 211-mile Georgia Central Railway and 233-mile Heart of Georgia Railroad would like to test the battery-electric cars – which can run alone or coupled together as an autonomous train – on portions of their lines beginning next year. “GC and HOG believe the development and anticipated adoption of this technology has the potential to capture new container business moving to and from the Port of Savannah, as well as reinvigorate traffic on rural rail lines and revive inland ports in Georgia – all while removing trucks from the region’s roads and reducing carbon emissions,” G&W said.

Victims Of The East Palestine Train Disaster Still Fighting For Their Lives

On February 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern Railroad train carrying 150 cars, some containing toxic chemicals, derailed in the small town of East Palestine, Ohio on the border with Pennsylvania. The residents in the immediate area were evacuated but the 100,000 gallons of chemicals, including vinyl chloride, that spilled spread throughout the region. Now, over six months later, many residents still cannot return to their homes. Hilary Flint of Enon Valley, Pennsylvania, the vice president of the Unity Council for the East Palestine Train Derailment joined Clearing the FOG to describe what happened, the failures of the local, state and federal governments to provide what affected residents need and how they are organizing to pressure President Biden to grant Governor DeWine's request for an emergency declaration and more.

New Climate Rule Could Change The Face Of America’s Railways

A new California rule mandating a switch to zero-emissions locomotives could create scores of new union jobs, especially if other states follow suit. But last month, the railroad industry filed a lawsuit challenging the rule, charging that states do not have the right to pass regulations stricter than federal limits on emissions. Meanwhile, railroad companies have largely ignored federal rules that are in place mandating a transition to the cleanest-burning diesel regulations, and experts say adherence to those existing rules would also create thousands of union jobs while greatly reducing the release of carbon into the atmosphere.

He Tried To Raise The Alarm About Railroad Safety; Then He Got Fired

When we hear the term “whistleblower,” we tend to think of names like Daniel Ellsberg, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange—people who have risked their freedom, even their lives, to expose government lies, abuses of power, and state secrets that the public needs to know about. But there are a range of federal statutes designed to protect those who blow the whistle on their employers, too, especially when those employers are breaking the law and/or endangering their workers and the public. Michael Paul Lindsey II is a military veteran who has worked for Union Pacific as a trained locomotive conductor and engineer for the past 17 years

Bell Tolls Once Again In Lac-Mégantic, Marking A Decade

Forty-seven chimes rang today at Sainte-Agnès de Lac-Mégantic church to honor lives lost but not forgotten by a community renowned for their strength and their ability to band together in the face of tragedy. Yet, they are now met with a threat determined to tear them apart as a plan to expropriate land in an effort to reroute the rail line rubs salt in a wound not healed.  Representatives from Railroad Workers United attended Lac-Mégantic’s 10th Anniversary Memorial March to encourage residents that they're not alone. Canadian railroads are American railroads, their safety is our safety, and their struggle is also ours.  

Norfolk Southern Won’t Clean Up Their Mess Unless We Make Them

It’s been over 100 days since the catastrophic derailment of a Norfolk Southern train carrying over 100,000 gallons of toxic materials occurred in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb 3. Since then, residents of East Palestine and the surrounding area in Ohio and Pennsylvania have had their lives turned completely upside down. Entire families have been uprooted from their homes, with many having to live in hotels or wherever they can find shelter, unable to return home out of fear of exposure to chemicals that were spilled into the water and soil from the derailment and spewed into the air from Norfolk Southern’s ​“controlled burn” of the vinyl chloride contained within multiple derailed train cars.

Railway Of Resistance: A Grand Project To Connect Iran, Iraq, Syria

Sir Halford John Mackinder, one of Britain’s most prominent theorists in the field of geopolitics, discusses the significance of land connectivity between nations in his 1904 essay called The Geographical Pivot of History. Besides introducing his notable Heartland Theory, Mackinder argued that advancements in transportation technology, such as the development of railways, have altered the balance of power in international politics by enabling a powerful state or group of states to expand its influence along transport routes. The establishment of blocs, like the EU or BRICS, for instance, aims to enhance communication between member states. This objective has positive implications for the economy and helps reduce the risk of tensions among them.

French Rail Workers Mobilize To Save Rail Freight Operator

Trade unions and rail and freight workers in France have intensified their campaign to save freight operator Fret SNCF, a subsidiary of the state-owned National Society of French Railway (SNCF). On Tuesday, May 16, the workers, responding to the call of unions including CGT des Cheminots which is affiliated to the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), marched to the Ministry of Transport in Paris, demanding that the freight company being saved from liquidation. Union representatives also held talks with the SNCF management and other transport authorities on the same day. Earlier this year, on January 18, the European Commission opened an investigation into support measures taken up by the SNFC to help Fret SNCF, such as capital injection and debt cancellation, during the 2007-2019 period, which allegedly do not comply with European state aid rules.

Kansas Will Regulate Railroad Crew Size

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is proposing a new rule that would require trains traveling through the state have at least two crew members on board. The Democratic governor announced on Thursday that she has directed the Kansas Department of Transportation to propose the rule, which would be implemented following a public comment period of at least 60 days. It would apply to all railroads regardless of size, but includes no enforcement mechanism. “Railroads across the country have faced issues ranging from crew member fatigue to derailments, all of which pose a threat to Kansans’ safety and security,” Kelly said in a statement.

Unions Say Share Buybacks Should Stop Until Safety Improves

Washington — A coalition of railroad labor unions today called on the Class I systems to pause their stock buyback programs and abandon the low-cost Precision Scheduled Railroading operating model until safety improves. The 14 unions, which combined represent more than 100,000 railroad workers, claim that since 2015 the six publicly-traded freight railroads spent more than $165 billion in stock buybacks, which is $46 billion more than they invested in safety. “For years, rail workers have been sounding the alarm about safety issues. It’s time to listen to rail workers, not rail CEOs,” the union coalition said on their new website.

Railroad Workers United: ‘We Would Never Concede Our Right To Strike’

In defending her votes — one to approve seven days of sick leave for railworkers and one to support the president’s bill to block the strike — Ocasio-Cortez states that she was acting on the wishes of Railroad Workers United (RWU) and other groups of railroad workers. She states in the interview, “When you look after the vote, folks like RWU were saying, ‘This is what we asked them to do.” Later she says, “Because, for example, with the rail vote, the only partners that I had leading up to that were railworkers. And if that’s what they asked us to do, then that’s what we did.” But Ocasio-Cortez is clouding the reality of the situation by referring to “the vote,” when in fact there were two separate and distinctive votes.
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