Thursday, March 24, 2011

Life is.....at any moment

My thoughts and prayers are with those and families of the 3 people killed in Kelso by a train on Wednesday. One was an engineer with the BNSF who was 58, almost to retirement. Another was a Conductor Trainee, a 28 yo learning the job. Also, the Shuttle Driver, a 60 yo did not make it, but was not a railroad employee. The conductor, a BNSF employee is in critical condition at OHSU in Portland, he is 52.

I used to be a Crew Hauler for UP a few years ago, the easiest job on the railroad. You had to be alert tho, you don't look once, or twice, you check about a half a dozen times before crossing tracks. Train equipment is very unforgiving equipment, and the last thing you wanted was to be in its path. There are thousands of employees who run this equipment, and work with it in the yard, you are always on the lookout. Once when I was picking up a crew at the North end of Brooklyn Yard in Portland, an Amtrak train went by, at 50mph. Theres no crossings, therefore no horns, no bells, just it whisking by pretty quietly. Its a good job, but one mistake is usually your only mistake.

Unfortunately, the railroads continue to try and cut costs to boost profits, and have hired the cheapest they can contract with. That doesn't go without saying these drivers are not trying to be safe, but when your paying these guys minimum wage, you get a lower quality of work. I hope this incident sparks some changes.

As a transportation blogger, and once a railroad worker, this is a loss to our world. Its just a reminder of how short life is....and you never know. Be Safe in everything you do!

1 comment:

pstransitoperators said...

Good post. I lost 2 great-uncles (never met) at Jefferson yard, long replaced facility in Seattle due to dangerous conditions. Good information for anti-unionists to consider when ranting against wages and benefits for transport workers.

-jw