The death of a CSX carman, Fred Anderson, 56, who was struck and killed by a remote controlled train on September 17 in Wallbridge Yard, near Toledo, has renewed calls for stricter rules on the use of remote operations.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Transportation Communications Union & Brotherhood of Railway Carmen (TCU/BRC) are calling for federal regulators to step in. Anderson was a TCU/BRC member.
“Enough is enough,” said Artie Maratea TCU’s national president. “A full-scale review of the use and practices around remote-control locomotives is long overdue. CSX — and every railroad — must evaluate their use of these supposed technological advancements to ensure they are actually making our members safer, and not merely replacing people to continue lining the pockets of Wall Street.” The BLET has long questioned the safety of remote control operations, in which workers, who are not licensed engineers and not inside the cab, control train movements using joysticks. In particular, the BLET has voiced concern since early 2023 when rail carriers began to push for use of remote control operations on main line tracks outside of yard limits.
Earlier this year, in a guest column published by the Houston Chronicle, BLET National President Eddie Hall wrote: “(Railroads) initially agreed that they would only operate trains remotely within the safe confines of a switching yard. They now roll through our neighborhoods operated remotely by a worker who lacks access to all of the train’s controls and safety features.”
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the September 17 remote control fatality at Wallbridge Yard.
According to Trains.com, this is the third fatal incident in a CSX yard since June.