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‘A Taxi Driver’ Honors a Humble Hero in South Korea

Sun, 02/11/2018 - 21:50

‘A Taxi Driver’ Honors a Humble Hero in South Korea
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/10/movies/a-taxi-driver-review.html
A TAXI DRIVER Directed by Hun Jang Action, Drama, History 2h 17m
By ANDY WEBSTERAUG. 10, 2017
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbUwOP9HZQk

From left, Thomas Kretschmann and Song Kang-ho in “A Taxi Driver,” based on a true story of heroism in South Korea in 1980. CreditCho Won Jin/Well Go USA
With (“The Front Line”) takes historical events in South Korea — the imposition of martial law in 1980 by the dictator Chun Doo-hwan — to construct an affecting what-if tale. The plot has a factual basis: the relationship between a German TV journalist, Jürgen Hinzpeter, and the cabdriver who drove him from Seoul to the locked-down city of Gwangju, at the time a hotbed of pro-democracy student rebellion and violent repression. While the real-life name of the cabby and his ultimate fate are unclear (his name may have been Kim Sa-bok), the film calls him Kim Man-seob and gives him a poignant back story and destiny.

A preview of the film. By WELL GO USA on Publish DateAugust 10, 2017. Image courtesy of Internet Video Archive.Watch in Times Video »
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Kim (Song Kang-ho) is a garrulous if gruff widowed father to an 11-year-old girl, impatient with traffic jams resulting from protests in Seoul. If it weren’t for the back rent he owes, he wouldn’t need to take Hinzpeter (Thomas Kretschmann) to the besieged Gwangju. But when he does, they witness a huge street demonstration that is met with tear gas and military brutality. The soft-spoken Hinzpeter is determined to smuggle footage of the dictatorship’s abuses to a German news organization, while the heretofore neutral Kim comes to realize the urgency of Hinzpeter’s mission.

The film climaxes with a breathless escape from Gwangju, as Kim and Hinzpeter elude government vehicles with the aid of other cabdrivers. But most impressive is Mr. Song, who persuasively conveys a working stiff’s political awakening.

A Taxi Driver
Director Hun JangStars Kang-ho Song, Thomas Kretschmann, Hae-jin Yoo, Jun-yeol Ryu, Hyuk-kwon ParkRunning Time 2h 17mGenres Action, Drama, History
Movie data powered by IMDb.com
Last updated: Nov 2, 2017
Not rated. In Korean, with English subtitles. Running time: 2 hours 17 minutes.

Film Review: ‘A Taxi Driver’
An entertaining journey into a tragic and violent chapter of Korean modern history.
http://variety.com/2017/film/reviews/a-taxi-driver-review-taeksi-woonjun...
By Maggie Lee @maggiesama
Maggie Lee
Chief Asia Film Critic

Director: Jang HoonWith: Song Kang-ho, Thomas Kretschmann, Ryoo Yun-ryul, Oh Dal-su. (Korean, English, German dialogue)
Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6878038/
Revisiting the 1980 Gwangju Massacre, a landmark historical event in South Korea’s march towards democracy, director Jang Hoon brings a sappy, feel-good touch to a tragic subject by focusing on the bond between a German reporter (Thomas Kretschmann) and the taxi driver(Song Kang-ho) who helped him get the news out to the world.

Jang, who’s established himself as a hit-maker with features like “Secret Reunion” (also starring Song) and “The Front Line,” again worked B.O. miracles, earning the third highest domestic opening score of all time with “A Taxi Driver.” While the film clearly taps into the national zeitgeist, buoyed by a sweeping show of people’s power that ousted the president, international audiences should also appreciate the actors’ feisty turns. (It opened in the U.S. on Aug. 11.)“A Taxi Driver” is the first major production to tackle the Gwangju Uprising head-on since the 2007 blockbuster “May 18.” Having less pretensions to epic grandeur than that film, it instead gains credibility from being based on a true story, and closing footage of the German reporter returning to the democratized country in 2003 certainly adds historical heft.

The script by Uhm Yoo-na and Jo Seul-ye has drastically simplified the political context that triggered the uprising, but this in turn helps foreign viewers grasp the plot more easily than denser, more intellectual probings of the subject in such films as Im Sang-soo’s “The Old Garden” or Lee Chang-dong’s “Peppermint Candy.” Opening titles explain how the 1979 assassination of dictator Park Chung-hee sparked hopes of democracy among the younger generation, though the power vacuum was soon filled by Gen. Chun Doo-hwan, who declared martial law in a 1980 coup. In Gwangju, protest quickly spilled out of universities and engulfed the southwestern city.

Despite the government’s attempts at keeping foreign press in the dark, Juergen Hinspeter (Kretschmann), correspondent for a German broadcast channel, gets wind of the unrest brewing in South Korea. From his base in Tokyo, he flies to Seoul where his contact helps him book a taxi to drive him south to the beleaguered city. When the protagonist (Song) whose real name is never revealed in the film, overhears that a foreigner is forking out about $900 for the fare, the cash-strapped single father cunningly steals the job from the intended driver.

They arrive on May 19, a day after the uprising broke out, to find the city completely sealed off by the army, although the two still manage to bluff their way pass blockades. Initially, they come across a group of students whose youthful innocence is expressed by the way they sing and dance like revelers at a Woodstock concert, but eventually wind up at a hospital where the casualties provide raw evidence of the bloody crackdown.

The protagonist becomes embroiled in a squabble with local taxi drivers, who scoff at his mercenary attitude. Jang makes good-humored fun of biases between Seoul citizens and natives of the Jeolla district, where the film takes place, but later demonstrates how humanist values transcend regional differences. Although the driver initially displays cowardice in the face of conflict, his personal struggle is rendered agonizing enough by Song to give full force to a climactic U-turn.

Apart from re-creating one incident in which paratroopers tried to wipe out a whole crowd in front of a broadcast station, the film eschews the kind of bombastic, effects-heavy setpieces that characterized “May 18.” Instead, it depicts the regime’s brutal repression implicitly through its blatant attack on press freedom and shameless distortion of the truth. This in turn accentuates Hinzpeter’s role in raising international awareness for their crimes.

According to historical records, on May 20, hundreds of taxis mobilized themselves in a parade to support marching citizens and rescue the injured. Hailed as “drivers of democracy,” many lost their lives. Since only a few taxis are deployed in any given scene, the film hasn’t re-created an adequate sense of the scope of their heroism. However, the power of solidarity is conveyed in a late car-chase sequence that’s choreographed to rousing effect. (The film looks polished overall, its mood buoyed by a playful, jazzy score.)

Although the film’s portrayal of its main characters has recognizable precedents, the two lead actors calibrate their mutual respect and co-dependency to engaging effect, as the escalating violence and peril heighten their sense of personal mission. Echoing the role of American correspondent Sydney Schanberg in “The Killing Fields,” Hinzpeter arrives in Korea as an opportunistic newshound rather than a champion of justice. Kretschmann plays him initially with an unlikable cold efficiency, treating his driver and other Koreans as mere tools or fodder for his article. Impressively, there are no overnight changes in his persona. Rather, the actor maintains a certain stiff composure even as his passion and affection for the democracy fighters visibly grows. The final parting is genuinely touching as the two men now relate to each other as equals.

Audiences familiar with Korean cinema will instantly recognize a resemblance between the character of the taxi driver and Song’s role in “The Attorney,” in which he transforms from a mercenary tax solicitor to an altruistic human-rights lawyer. And yet Song makes a subtle distinction between the two characters, as his comic charm betrays the tough-talking character’s soft heart, as when he keeps letting passengers in need short-change him.

Film Review: 'A Taxi Driver'

Reviewed at Korean Film Council screening room, Aug. 4, 2017. Running time: 137 MIN. (Original title: "Taeksi Woonjeonsa”)

PRODUCTION: (S. Korea) A Showbox Mediaplex (in South Korea), Well Go USA (in U.S.) release of The Lamp production in association with Ace Investment & Finance, Leo Partners Investment, Signature Film, Interpark, Huayi Investment, Huayi Brothers Korea, Korea Broadcast Advertising Corp. (International sales: Showbox) Producer: Park Un-kyoung. Executive producer: You Jeong-hun. Co-executive producers: Hwang Young-won, Kim Song-soo, Han Suk-woo, Park Jin-young, Oh Seung-wook, Ji Seung-bum, Kwak Sung-moon. Co-producer: Choi Ki-sua.

CREW: Director: Jang Hoon. Screenplay: Ho Kei-ping. Camera (color, widescreen): Ko Nak-sun. Editors: Kim Sang-bum, Kim Jae-bum. Music: Cho Young-wook.

WITH: Song Kang-ho, Thomas Kretschmann, Ryoo Yun-ryul, Oh Dal-su. (Korean, English, German dialogue)

FEATURED POSTINTERVIEW
INTERVIEW: DIRECTOR JANG HOON ON THE MAKING OF ‘A TAXI DRIVER’
http://www.awardscircuit.com/2017/11/18/interview-director-jang-hoon-mak...
By Shane Slater - Nov 18, 2017

Released earlier this year to strong box office both at home and abroad, “A Taxi Driver” shines a spotlight on South Korean history with poignant and entertaining results. Now, director Jang Hoon hopes to make some history of his own. The film is now an official submission for the Foreign Language Oscar, an award for which South Korea has never been nominated. And for Jang Hoon, it will be his second chance at bat. As we await this year’s nominations, I caught up with the promising filmmaker for a chat about the making of the film and his Oscar hopes. Below is an edited version of our conversation.

Shane Slater: How did you come across this taxi driver’s story?

Jang Hoon: The production company saw the awards speech of the German journalist Mr. Hinzpeter in 2003. They got the idea from watching that speech. It took a while and the first draft of the screenplay was completed in 2015. Then they sent the draft to me and I read the script and decided to join the team.

SS: How did you choose the right actor for this role?

JH: Song Kang-ho was the first person that occurred to me when I read the script. I couldn’t think of anyone else.

SS: There seems that there was a great atmosphere of denial surrounding the events depicted. What is the public’s perception of it today?

JH: Those who actually had to live through this tragedy of the Gwangju Uprising, they knew about it of course. And their contemporaries learned about it through many testimonies, including the reporter and his documentary. Of course, there are younger generations who didn’t know about it and I guess the film helped these younger generations to understand what really happened in Gwangju.

SS: The Gwangju Uprising happened when you were very young. Did your understanding of the events change during the process of making the film?

JH: Yes, I was young at the time. The first time I heard about the Gwangju Uprising was when I was in college. I knew a little bit, not too much. So while preparing for the film I had to do a lot of research and I got to know the details really well.

SS: You’ve made a number of genre films before and some of those elements are included here. Were those action scenes like the car chase based on real life?

JH: The car chase didn’t happen, but it was a known fact that taxi drivers in Gwangju helped out the citizens a lot and made a lot of sacrifices themselves. It’s a symbolic expression of their sacrifice and their help. To be honest with you, that scene was really hard. I felt a lot of pressure. It’s the most cinematic scene.

SS: Do you find it easier to direct true stories, or do you prefer fictional ones?

JH: That’s a difficult question. Both have easy and difficult parts. I understand that when you create something based on a piece of history, I don’t have complete liberty. Certain facts must be there. So what’s hard about making a film based on a true story, is that I have to keep those facts in mind but I also have to create a movie that will appeal to audiences effectively. So while I was working on “A Taxi Driver” I deeply felt that my next project should be completely fiction.

SS: This is such an important part of South Korean history and the film is also representing the country at the Oscars. Is there added pressure?

JH: Yes, I feel added pressure. If I was chosen as an Oscar contender with a completely fictional story, I would feel less pressure. But this is based on a true story, so yes, there is extra pressure.

SS: South Korea has never been nominated before. Is there excitement from the public for this film to finally make it?

JH: I was in the race with my previous movie “The Front Line” in 2011. This is my second time as a contender and yes, I feel the expectations are higher this time. But of course, I’m telling you from my own experience.
ogle.com/d/optout.

Tags: Korean martial lawGwangjusolidarityrepression
Categories: Labor News

Ship Queue Grows as Truck Strike Slows Argentina Grain Exports

Sat, 02/10/2018 - 23:09

Ship Queue Grows as Truck Strike Slows Argentina Grain Exports
http://gcaptain.com/ship-queue-grows-truck-strike-slows-argentina-grain-...
February 9, 2018 by Reuters

argentine grain exports
Ships used to carry grains for export are seen next to a dredging boat (L) on the Parana river near Rosario, Argentina, January 31, 2017. File photo. Picture taken January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
BUENOS AIRES, Feb 9 (Reuters) – Some 93 cargo ships were waiting to load soy and corn from Argentina’s main exporting hub of Rosario on Friday, more than a week into a truck owners strike, the spokesman for an industry group said.

That was up from just over 60 on Thursday, said Andres Alcarez, spokesman for export company chamber CIARA-CEC.

Truck owners went on strike last week in a bid to force the adoption of mandatory minimum grains hauling rates. The work stoppage also slowed the unloading of beans at soyoil and meal manufacturing sites.

Argentina is the world’s top exporter of soybeans and soymeal and the No. 3 exporter of both corn and soymeal. Some 80 percent of Argentina’s agricultural exports depart from Rosario. (Reporting by Maximilian Heath, writing by Caroline Stauffer Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Tags: Argentina truckerssolidarity
Categories: Labor News

Ship Queue Grows as Truck Strike Slows Argentina Grain Exports

Sat, 02/10/2018 - 23:09

Ship Queue Grows as Truck Strike Slows Argentina Grain Exports
http://gcaptain.com/ship-queue-grows-truck-strike-slows-argentina-grain-...
February 9, 2018 by Reuters

argentine grain exports
Ships used to carry grains for export are seen next to a dredging boat (L) on the Parana river near Rosario, Argentina, January 31, 2017. File photo. Picture taken January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci
BUENOS AIRES, Feb 9 (Reuters) – Some 93 cargo ships were waiting to load soy and corn from Argentina’s main exporting hub of Rosario on Friday, more than a week into a truck owners strike, the spokesman for an industry group said.

That was up from just over 60 on Thursday, said Andres Alcarez, spokesman for export company chamber CIARA-CEC.

Truck owners went on strike last week in a bid to force the adoption of mandatory minimum grains hauling rates. The work stoppage also slowed the unloading of beans at soyoil and meal manufacturing sites.

Argentina is the world’s top exporter of soybeans and soymeal and the No. 3 exporter of both corn and soymeal. Some 80 percent of Argentina’s agricultural exports depart from Rosario. (Reporting by Maximilian Heath, writing by Caroline Stauffer Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Tags: Argentina truckerssolidarity
Categories: Labor News

New SF TWU 250A Muni union president to take office after dispute

Thu, 02/08/2018 - 09:52

New SF TWU 250A Muni union president to take office after dispute

http://www.sfexaminer.com/new-muni-union-president-take-office-dispute/

Newly appointed Muni Union President Roger Marenco poses for a portrait in front of a Muni bus in San Francisco’s Mission District on Wednesday, Feb. 7th, 2018. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez on February 7, 2018 8:10 pm

Muni service, the backbone of San Francisco’s transit infrastructure, lives or dies by its operators. Now those operators have a new union president, known for his dogged organizing and fiery rhetoric: Roger Marenco.

Yet his rise in Muni’s union ranks has been accompanied by strife.

At union meetings, the 35-year-old Muni operator and Mission District local often wears his brown Muni jacket around his shoulders like a cape. His last assignment was to operate trains on the F-Market & Wharves historic streetcar line.

Marenco won the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A election in a landslide victory of 725 Muni operator votes. The next runner up, DeJohn Williams, received 231 votes. Some operators credit Marenco’s win to his text message group, which includes 1,200 Muni operators, as well as to his YouTube show exclusively targeted at educating Muni operators called “The Transit Talk.”

The election took place in mid-December, but was contested by union election officials. The dispute, which involved allegations of Marenco “interfering” with the election, was only resolved in recent weeks, according to an explanation in Marenco’s show, The Transit Talk.

“These charges are based on inaccurate statements, incorrect information, rumors, etcetera,” Marenco said, in his video. “Don’t believe the rumors.”

Though his opponents sought to invalidate the election, in the end Marenco was only delayed in assuming the presidency, which will begin in April.

TWU Local 250-A executive vice president Pete Wilson said it was against the union constitution to discuss member disputes.

The terms of the appeal and resolution with the union mean Marenco cannot talk directly about his union presidency yet. Generally, however, he told the San Francisco Examiner he sees much opportunity for Muni service to improve.

“There’s a tremendous lack of morale among operators,” he said, “Many politicians think ‘I’m going to fix Muni.’ You know what operators really want and need?”

“Dignity,” he said.

Operators also are seeking better restroom facilities, time to move between yards for runs, more publicity around assaults on operators and a shorter wage progression for new operators to obtain full pay, Marenco said.

The freshman union president will have a year to prepare to negotiate the next contract between 2,000-plus Muni operators and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Irwin Lum, a past Muni union president, said he was concerned Marenco may not yet have enough experience to negotiate a contract with The City.

“I think he needs to get a handle on it and pull ideas from the membership,” Lum said.

The last major contract negotiation, in 2014, was led by past president, Eric Williams, and resulted in the “sickout” that saw hundreds of Muni operators simultaneously calling in sick, crippling The City’s transit.

When asked if he thought San Francisco would experience another “sickout,” Marenco said “ I hope not,” and said better treatment of operators would make for smooth negotiations.

Born and partially raised in El Salvador, Marenco said his family brought him to San Francisco when he was seven years old. He attended Mission High School.

Tags: TWU 250ARoger Marenco
Categories: Labor News

New SF TWU 250A Muni union president to take office after dispute

Thu, 02/08/2018 - 09:52

http://www.sfexaminer.com/new-muni-union-president-take-office-dispute/

Newly appointed Muni Union President Roger Marenco poses for a portrait in front of a Muni bus in San Francisco’s Mission District on Wednesday, Feb. 7th, 2018. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez on February 7, 2018 8:10 pm

Muni service, the backbone of San Francisco’s transit infrastructure, lives or dies by its operators. Now those operators have a new union president, known for his dogged organizing and fiery rhetoric: Roger Marenco.

Yet his rise in Muni’s union ranks has been accompanied by strife.

At union meetings, the 35-year-old Muni operator and Mission District local often wears his brown Muni jacket around his shoulders like a cape. His last assignment was to operate trains on the F-Market & Wharves historic streetcar line.

Marenco won the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A election in a landslide victory of 725 Muni operator votes. The next runner up, DeJohn Williams, received 231 votes. Some operators credit Marenco’s win to his text message group, which includes 1,200 Muni operators, as well as to his YouTube show exclusively targeted at educating Muni operators called “The Transit Talk.”

The election took place in mid-December, but was contested by union election officials. The dispute, which involved allegations of Marenco “interfering” with the election, was only resolved in recent weeks, according to an explanation in Marenco’s show, The Transit Talk.

“These charges are based on inaccurate statements, incorrect information, rumors, etcetera,” Marenco said, in his video. “Don’t believe the rumors.”

Though his opponents sought to invalidate the election, in the end Marenco was only delayed in assuming the presidency, which will begin in April.

TWU Local 250-A executive vice president Pete Wilson said it was against the union constitution to discuss member disputes.

The terms of the appeal and resolution with the union mean Marenco cannot talk directly about his union presidency yet. Generally, however, he told the San Francisco Examiner he sees much opportunity for Muni service to improve.

“There’s a tremendous lack of morale among operators,” he said, “Many politicians think ‘I’m going to fix Muni.’ You know what operators really want and need?”

“Dignity,” he said.

Operators also are seeking better restroom facilities, time to move between yards for runs, more publicity around assaults on operators and a shorter wage progression for new operators to obtain full pay, Marenco said.

The freshman union president will have a year to prepare to negotiate the next contract between 2,000-plus Muni operators and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.

Irwin Lum, a past Muni union president, said he was concerned Marenco may not yet have enough experience to negotiate a contract with The City.

“I think he needs to get a handle on it and pull ideas from the membership,” Lum said.

The last major contract negotiation, in 2014, was led by past president, Eric Williams, and resulted in the “sickout” that saw hundreds of Muni operators simultaneously calling in sick, crippling The City’s transit.

When asked if he thought San Francisco would experience another “sickout,” Marenco said “ I hope not,” and said better treatment of operators would make for smooth negotiations.

Born and partially raised in El Salvador, Marenco said his family brought him to San Francisco when he was seven years old. He attended Mission High School.

Tags: TWU 250ARoger Marenco
Categories: Labor News

A NYC Driver’s Suicide Reveals the Dark Side of the Gig Economy

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 11:44

A NYC Driver’s Suicide Reveals the Dark Side of the Gig Economy
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/06/nyregion/livery-driver-taxi-uber.html

Big City
By GINIA BELLAFANTE FEB. 6, 2018
Continue reading the main storyShare This Page
Photo

Doug Schifter, a New York livery driver, said he killed himself to illuminate how ride hailing services have devastated taxi workers financially.Creditvia Black Car News
Last spring, Bhairavi Desai, a middle-aged woman without a driver’s license and thus an unlikely leader for thousands of mostly male drivers in the world’s largest market for hired vehicles, delivered emotional testimony in front of New York City’s Taxi & Limousine Commission about the mounting existential difficulties in her field.

The executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Ms. Desai had been a labor activist for 21 years but she had never seen anything like the despair she was witnessing now — the bankruptcies, foreclosures and eviction notices plaguing drivers who were calling her with questions about how to navigate homelessness and paralyzing depression.

“Half my heart is just crushed,’’ she said, “and the other half is on fire.”

The economic hardship that Uber and its competitors had inflicted on conventional drivers in New York and London and other cities had become overwhelming. For decades there had been no more than approximately 12,000 to 13,000 taxis in New York but now there were myriad new ways to avoid public transportation, in some cases with ride-hailing services like Via that charged little more than $5 to travel in Manhattan. In 2013, there were 47,000 for-hire vehicles in the city. Now there were more than 100,000, approximately two-thirds of them affiliated with Uber.

While Uber has sold that “disruption” as positive for riders, for many taxi workers, it has been devastating. Between 2013 and 2016, the gross

Tags: taxi workerssuicideUber
Categories: Labor News

The UK RMT On Privatization Of Rail, The Attacks On Workers & The Fightback In The UK with Mark Carden RMT Ass. Gen. Secretary

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 02:48

The UK RMT On Privatization Of Rail, The Attacks On Workers & The Fightback In The UK with Mark Carden RMT Ass. Gen. Secretary
https://youtu.be/TXQEZNyoAsk
Mark Carden, the Assistant General Secretary of the British Rail, Maritime and Transport Union RMT discusses the result of privatization in rail and the attacks on workers in transportation including the health and safety dangers of privatization. He also discusses the growing attacks on working people including the National Health Service and the growing anger in the working class in the UK. This interview was done on February 5, 2018 at the offices of the RMT in London.
Additional media:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZOY7s131js
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-jh0WNiXy8
For more information on the RMT
www.rmt.org.uk/home/
Production of the Labor Video Project
www.laborvideo.org

Tags: RMTRail Privatizationcapitalismoutsourcinghealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

NTSB: Amtrak engineer sounded horn, applied emergency brake in S.C. crash

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 02:46

NTSB: Amtrak engineer sounded horn, applied emergency brake in S.C. crash

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/ntsb-amtrak-eng...

FILE PHOTO: Emergency responders are at the scene after an Amtrak passenger train collided with a freight train and derailed in Cayce, South Carolina, U.S., February 4, 2018. REUTERS/Randall Hill/File Photo (Randall Hill/Reuters)
By Lori Aratani and Ashley Halsey III February 5 at 7:30 PM Email the author
The engineer of an Amtrak train sounded his horn for three seconds and eventually hit the emergency brake, slowing the train to 50 mph before it slammed head-on into a freight train near Columbia, S.C., federal investigators said Monday.

The impact of the crash early Sunday was so intense that it moved the empty CSX freight train 15 feet from where it was parked on tracks adjacent to the main rail line, according to Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash. The Amtrak train’s conductor and engineer were killed, and 116 others were hospitalized.

Sunday’s crash in Cayce, S.C., about four miles south of Columbia, was the third high-profile incident involving an Amtrak train in less than two months. Last Wednesday, an Amtrak train carrying GOP lawmakers to their annual retreat in West Virginia hit a garbage truck outside Crozet, Va. No lawmakers were seriously injured, but a passenger in the truck was killed.

The crashes have renewed concern about whether enough is being done to equip railroads with an automatic braking system known as positive train control, which Sumwalt and others say could have prevented Sunday’s fatal crash and one that occurred in December, just outside Seattle.

PTC originally was supposed to be in place by the end of 2015, but after a push by the rail industry, Congress postponed the deadline until the end of this year, with the possibility that it could be extended to the end of 2020.

Authorities investigate the scene of a fatal Amtrak train crash in Cayce, South Carolina, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018. At least two were killed and dozens injured. (Tim Dominick/The State via AP) (Tim Dominick/AP)
[NTSB investigators focus on why switch was set in the wrong position]

Last month, however, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao sent letters warning railroad industry leaders that they must meet the end-of-year deadline.

On Monday, members of the Association of American Railroads, which lobbies for the freight industry, said its members will meet the deadline.

“The railroads are very far along,” said Michael J. Rush, senior vice president of the Association of American Railroads. “All of the (seven major railroads) are going to make it by (December) 2018.”

What “making it” means will vary. The law passed by Congress puts a December deadline on hardware installation, acquisition of the mandated radio spectrum and training of employees in its use.

The law also requires that 50 percent of the system be switched on by December. If the railroads comply with that deadline they will then be required to complete the balance of the system by the end of 2020.

In the briefing with reporters on Monday, Sumwalt said the information about the Amtrak train’s speed and the engineer’s actions comes from the data recorder, which was retrieved from the wreckage. Investigators were hopeful that the front-facing video camera retrieved from the train’s locomotive Sunday would offer them more insight into what happened before the crash. However, it was discovered that the recording ended a few seconds before the crash. A forensics team in Washington is working on the footage, he said. The train hit a top speed of 57 mph before the engineer began to slow it; the speed limit in the corridor is 59.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt presents the ongoing investigation to the media during a press conference at SC Emergency Management Division in Cayce, South Carolina, on February 4, 2018. Two Amtrak employees were killed and more than 100 other people were injured early Sunday when a passenger train carrying 147 people hit a CSX freight train in South Carolina, authorities said. / AFP PHOTO / Logan CyrusLOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty Images (Logan Cyrus/AFP/Getty Images)
About seven seconds before the end of the recording, the train’s horn was activated for three seconds.

“A lot has been done, and a lot needs to be done,” Sumwalt said. “But I’m confident that our investigator will be able to piece this together.”

He said investigators are expected to remain in Cayce though the weekend.

Amtrak 91, traveling on tracks owned and maintained by freight railway giant CSX, was supposed to pass over the switch to continue onto the main-line tracks. Instead, it was directed onto a portion of track known as “siding,” which was occupied by the parked CSX train, Sumwalt said.

Sumwalt said officials have confirmed that a signal outage along the rail corridor meant that trains had to be manually directed through the area. He said the outage occurred because of upgrades tied to the installation of PTC. Investigators also are focusing on why a railroad switch was locked in the wrong position, sending the Amtrak train off the main line and onto the side track.

Sumwalt said NTSB investigators have also been able to interview four CSX crew members, including the engineer, conductor and the dispatcher who would have been responsible for directing the Amtrak train because of a signal outage along the rail line.

Sumwalt could not say whether the Amtrak engineer’s actions before the collision indicated that he knew the train had detoured off the main line and onto the side track.

[Chao: Rail industry must meet 2018 deadline for installing PTC]

Amtrak trains have PTC equipment, but the freight railroads on which Amtrak trains travel, including the one involved in Sunday’s crash, must install and activate transponders along their rail beds for the system to work.

According to Sumwalt, the Amtrak train was headed south on the main track, as directed by dispatchers with CSX. The empty freight train, which had unloaded its cargo of automobiles, was parked on a side track adjacent to the main line. When the Amtrak train moved past the area, it hit a switch that moved it to the side track where it crashed into the freight train.

Installing PTC is an expensive challenge for the railroads, requiring that hardware be added in 25,000 locomotives and sensors be placed along the railway beds. The payoff, safety advocates say, is that it will help prevent collisions and derailments.

Rush said Monday, that PTC has been implemented on 56 percent of required route miles. He added that 78 percent of locomotives have been equipped with the technology. PTC has also been installed on 72 percent of the track segments required by law.

In addition, 87 percent of railroad employees have been trained in the system.

When the industry appealed to Congress for relief from the looming deadline in 2015, it said it had already invested more than $6.5 billion, anticipated a total price tag of $10.6 billion and needed additional time to put the system in place.

The NTSB says it has investigated 146 rail incidents since 1969 that positive train control could have prevented. The toll in those incidents is 291 people killed and 6,574 injured.

But industry groups have disputed the contention that PTC would prevent most rail crashes.

PTC could prevent only about 4 percent of incidents, said the Association of American Railroads’ Rush. “There are lots and lots of other accidents that are not PTC preventable.”

Tags: Amtrak wreckhealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

UK DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes

Mon, 02/05/2018 - 12:33

UK DPD courier who was fined for day off to see doctor dies from diabetes
“How can modern Britain allow workers who are dedicated to their job to be driven to an early grave by such appalling exploitation?” said Field. “DPD have been told time and again that their punitive regime is totally unjust, particularly as their workers are labelled ‘self-employed’. Such mistreatment of workers smacks of sweated labour from the Victorian era.”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/feb/05/courier-who-was-fined-f...
Don Lane’s widow says he was afraid of getting fined if he did not ensure his round was covered
Robert Booth
Mon 5 Feb 2018 07.27 GMT

18k
Ruth Lane with Don
A courier for the parcel giant DPD who was fined for attending a medical appointment to treat his diabetes collapsed and died of the disease, it has emerged. Don Lane, 53, from Christchurch in Dorset, missed appointments with specialists because he felt under pressure to cover his round and faced DPD’s £150 daily penalties if he did not find cover, his widow has told the Guardian.

DPD delivers parcels for Marks & Spencer, Amazon and John Lewis but only pays couriers per parcel delivered. It treats them as self-employed franchisees and they receive no sick or holiday pay. The company’s system of charging drivers if they cannot cover their round has been described as appalling by the chairman of the House of Commons’ work and pensions committee, Frank Field.

Lane had collapsed twice, including once into a diabetic coma while at the wheel of his DPD van during deliveries, when the company fined him in July after he went to see a specialist about eye damage caused by diabetes. He collapsed again in September and finally in late December having worked through illness during the Christmas rush. He died at the Royal Bournemouth hospital on 4 January, leaving behind a widow, Ruth, and a 22-year-old son. He had worked for DPD for 19 years.

Ruth Lane
Ruth Lane, the widow of Don Lane, who was a courier with DPD at its Bournemouth depot. Photograph: Richard Crease/BNPS
Ruth Lane told the Guardian: “There was a constant threat of a fine. They had to deliver the parcels to tight slots and the pressure to get them done was huge. He was putting the company before his own health. He wasn’t able to do his parcels first and make the hospital appointments, so he would cancel on the day.

“He collapsed in January 2017 and they knew that because they collected his van. It was after that Don cancelled three appointments. DPD had a duty of care to make sure he got to those appointments, but they failed in it.” She added that in March her husband had told her: “I think I am going to die.”

Lane’s death comes as concern mounts at the human cost of the gig economy, which accounts for 1.1 million people, many working as couriers and minicab drivers. It is likely to increase pressure on the government to make meaningful reforms to employment law in a delayed announcement on modern working practices expected this week.

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Trade unions last night said the government must crack down on bogus self-employment. The TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “The insecure work free-for-all has to end … this will be a real test of Theresa May’s government. Does she even have a domestic agenda any more?”

DPD, one of the most successful firms operating in the gig economy, made over £100m profit after tax in 2016. Both it and Hermes, another parcel company relying on self-employed couriers, are facing employment tribunal claims from people who believe they should be treated as employed.

Field described Lane’s death as “a new low for the gig economy” and called on Theresa May to urgently introduce new legislation to protect “this small army of workers at the bottom of the pile … who are being badly exploited”.

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Lane disputed the £150 charge in July, insisting that he had told his bosses about the appointment months earlier. According to correspondence seen by the Guardian, he told his manager: “I have cancelled so many appointments because I couldn’t make the time to get there that the renal department have stopped treating me. I had to go.”

His DPD area manager replied: “I fail to understand why a full day off was required and as such do not see that the breach [the £150 fine] should be rescinded.”

During the appointment, doctors found Lane’s blood pressure and cholesterol were high, he had anaemia and rising levels of creatine in his kidneys, a warning sign of renal failure. In September 2017 he collapsed into another diabetic coma.

In the days before he died, he was feeling sick and vomiting blood, Ruth said, adding that he told her: “I really don’t want to work, but I have to.”. “They are like employees, not self-employed,” she said.

A colleague, who asked not to be named for fear that DPD would terminate his contract, said: “Don was falling apart, but they wouldn’t take it easy on him. They push drivers till they break. I definitely think they contributed to this. They knew Don was diabetic. They should have looked after him more.”

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DPD said in a statement that it was “profoundly sorry” that it had charged Lane, but cited “confusion” at the time. “Don attended his appointment, but it isn’t clear why he was then charged, when the charge hadn’t been been applied at any other time,” it said. “We got it wrong on that occasion.”

Lane first collapsed on 27 December 2016 and Ruth texted his manager to say: “he knows he has to come into work tomorrow as he’ll get charged”. On that occasion, the manager responded that “he has no worries about being charged”.

“In relation to Don’s poor health at the end of December 2016 and into January 2017, we refute the claim that he was under pressure and threatened with a £150 charge,” DPD said. It said that it monitored Lane’s health during 2017 but did not know that he had suffered another diabetic coma in September. It said he had a quiet rural route with a relatively small number of deliveries, which suited him “as it was convenient for his hospital appointments”.

“In the runup to Christmas, it is normal in the industry for drivers to work additional days at the weekend and Don was working his normal route,” DPD said. “We weren’t made aware that Don was feeling sick and vomiting up some blood at this time. We were shocked and hugely saddened by Don’s death and our thoughts go out to his family and friends at this difficult time.”

DPD said its drivers “do not have to provide the service personally, and drivers have the option of providing a substitute driver in the event of sickness. Don was aware of the need to provide a substitute.” It said if a driver cannot find a substitute, it tries to reallocate the route among other drivers.

DPD uses around 5,000 self-employed couriers. They are under pressure to deliver parcels to restricted time slots, must wear a uniform, hire a DPD liveried van and not work for any other courier company. MPs and unions have argued that these strict conditions mean they are bogusly self-employed and should be treated as employed workers. Courier companies using self-employed drivers, including ParcelForce and UK Mail, have also sparked anger by levying fines if rounds are not covered.

DPD said that it charged fines in 4.6% of the cases where couriers did not provide a service, but declined to say how much it raised because this information was “operationally sensitive”.

“How can modern Britain allow workers who are dedicated to their job to be driven to an early grave by such appalling exploitation?” said Field. “DPD have been told time and again that their punitive regime is totally unjust, particularly as their workers are labelled ‘self-employed’. Such mistreatment of workers smacks of sweated labour from the Victorian era.”

Tags: killing workersstress on the jobhealthcarecourier
Categories: Labor News

Chicago ATU Contract Discussion 2018 going on a contract/strike campaign to force the Chicago Transit Authority to accept a better contract.

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 21:15

Chicago ATU Contract Discussion 2018
going on a contract/strike campaign to force the Chicago Transit Authority to accept a better contract.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Phk34Cs9HrU&feature=youtu.be
\
Erek Slater
Uploaded on Feb 4, 2018
This video is a discussion of the Feb. 8th 2018 ratification vote for Amalgamated Transit Unions 241 and 308 in Chicago. Erek Slater, an executive board member for ATU Local 241, outlines a third option for coworkers: going on a contract/strike campaign to force the Chicago Transit Authority to accept a better contract. The views expressed in this video do not reflect the official positions of ATU or CTA. This video is for ATU members to view only.

Please send factual corrections, questions and ideas to trasitworkersunite@gmail.com or eslater@atu241chicago.org

Tags: ATU 241ATU 308contract campaignright to strike
Categories: Labor News

Seattle School union busting bus contractor First Student is no stranger to labor disputes

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 10:01

Seattle School union busting bus contractor First Student is no stranger to labor disputes
https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/seattles-contractor-...
Originally published February 4, 2018 at 6:00 am Updated February 3, 2018 at 5:03 pm
Striking bus drivers for Seattle Public School’s including Ed Dornbach, center (blue jacket) and Larry Smith, right, picket at the First Student bus facility on the corner of Lake City Way Northwest at Northeast 137th Street on Thursday. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)
Striking bus drivers for Seattle Public School’s including Ed Dornbach, center (blue jacket) and Larry Smith, right, picket at the First Student bus facility on the corner of Lake City Way Northwest at Northeast 137th Street on Thursday. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)
Seattle’s strike, which has left families of some 12,000 students scrambling to find ways to get their children to school, will likely surpass Montreal’s and continue into next week.

By Paige Cornwell
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle isn’t the first city to find its school district caught between its striking bus drivers and their employer, First Student. In the past month alone, drivers in Southern California and Montreal, Canada, have launched strikes against the giant bus company over contract disputes.

Both strikes ended Wednesday, one day before Seattle’s began.

Like Seattle Public Schools, several districts in those areas were left without bus service. The Southern California strike ended after two weeks, while the Montreal drivers staged a two-day strike.

Seattle’s strike, which has left families of some 12,000 students scrambling to find ways to get their children to school, likely will surpass Montreal’s and continue into next week. First Student and Teamsters Local 174, which represents the 400 bus drivers, appear far from an agreement. Both sides have said they want to return to the negotiating table, but no talks were scheduled through the weekend.

First Student is the largest school-bus contractor in North America, with more than 50,500 employees who drive 44,00 buses in more than 1,000 school districts. It’s a division of FirstGroup, a company based in England that has revenue of about $7 billion a year, according to the company.

The company is no stranger to labor disputes and other issues.

“It doesn’t surprise us at all that First Student would have all these problems,” Teamsters spokeswoman Jamie Fleming said. “Their business model is based on paying their employees as little as possible with no benefits.”

First Student has maintained that it provides competitive pay and health benefits for its drivers.

“During this difficult time, we are doing everything we can to provide as much service as possible to Seattle Public Schools families,” First Student said in a statement Friday. “We know how important our work is, so any driver who wants to continue to work can certainly do so. First Student remains available and willing to take a call from the union at any time.”

The union members in Southern California who drive buses for the Alhambra, Glendale and Pasadena school districts wanted better pay and health benefits, and had concerns about poor working conditions. Teamsters Local 572, which represents drivers in all three districts, rejected two offers from First Student and then decided to strike, according to the Pasadena Star-News. About 3,000 students in those districts take the bus.

A First Student spokesman told the Pasadena Star-News that the company offered to cover 60 percent of employees’ health care premiums.

In Seattle, the company currently gives full- and part-time drivers up to $1,900 in annual stipends to pay for health premiums. The company’s current offer would pay 80 percent of the premiums for full- and part-time employees as well as 80 percent for the dependents of full-time employees. The union has rejected the offer but hasn’t said publicly what it wants to get. The sides are also at odds over retirement benefits.

In Montreal, 330 school-bus drivers went on strike after negotiations stalled with Autobus Transco, which is owned by First Student. The drivers, represented by a Quebec union, wanted a pay increase and a three-year contract, while the company wanted a five-year contract.

The strike affected about 15,000 Montreal students.

Steilacoom, Pierce County, bus drivers went on strike against First Student in May 2017 to protest their hourly pay of $12.75, which they said wasn’t a livable wage. The drivers, represented by Teamsters Local 313, were only on strike for four hours before the two sides came to an agreement that workers would receive an average of $5 more per hour, the union said. Classes were delayed by two hours.

In addition to the strikes, other districts across the nation have decided to go with another bus provider over concerns about driver behavior, late arrivals and old equipment.

The Shawnee Mission School District in suburban Kansas City, Kansas, for example, changed bus companies last year after concerns about late arrivals. The district documented more than 600 cases in one school year where drivers were late or didn’t pick up students at all, The Kansas City Star reported.

Seattle school district officials have said they had no choice but to hire First Student because it was the only company to bid when its previous contract expired last year. The school district agreed to a three-year contract, worth $27 million a year, through 2020.

Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2530 or pcornwell@seattletimes.com; on Twitter @pgcornwell.

Tags: First Studentunion bustingoutsourcing
Categories: Labor News

Seattle School union busting bus contractor First Student is no stranger to labor disputes

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 10:01

Seattle School union busting bus contractor First Student is no stranger to labor disputes
https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/seattles-contractor-...
Originally published February 4, 2018 at 6:00 am Updated February 3, 2018 at 5:03 pm
Striking bus drivers for Seattle Public School’s including Ed Dornbach, center (blue jacket) and Larry Smith, right, picket at the First Student bus facility on the corner of Lake City Way Northwest at Northeast 137th Street on Thursday. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)
Striking bus drivers for Seattle Public School’s including Ed Dornbach, center (blue jacket) and Larry Smith, right, picket at the First Student bus facility on the corner of Lake City Way Northwest at Northeast 137th Street on Thursday. (Mike Siegel/The Seattle Times)
Seattle’s strike, which has left families of some 12,000 students scrambling to find ways to get their children to school, will likely surpass Montreal’s and continue into next week.

By Paige Cornwell
Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle isn’t the first city to find its school district caught between its striking bus drivers and their employer, First Student. In the past month alone, drivers in Southern California and Montreal, Canada, have launched strikes against the giant bus company over contract disputes.

Both strikes ended Wednesday, one day before Seattle’s began.

Like Seattle Public Schools, several districts in those areas were left without bus service. The Southern California strike ended after two weeks, while the Montreal drivers staged a two-day strike.

Seattle’s strike, which has left families of some 12,000 students scrambling to find ways to get their children to school, likely will surpass Montreal’s and continue into next week. First Student and Teamsters Local 174, which represents the 400 bus drivers, appear far from an agreement. Both sides have said they want to return to the negotiating table, but no talks were scheduled through the weekend.

First Student is the largest school-bus contractor in North America, with more than 50,500 employees who drive 44,00 buses in more than 1,000 school districts. It’s a division of FirstGroup, a company based in England that has revenue of about $7 billion a year, according to the company.

The company is no stranger to labor disputes and other issues.

“It doesn’t surprise us at all that First Student would have all these problems,” Teamsters spokeswoman Jamie Fleming said. “Their business model is based on paying their employees as little as possible with no benefits.”

First Student has maintained that it provides competitive pay and health benefits for its drivers.

“During this difficult time, we are doing everything we can to provide as much service as possible to Seattle Public Schools families,” First Student said in a statement Friday. “We know how important our work is, so any driver who wants to continue to work can certainly do so. First Student remains available and willing to take a call from the union at any time.”

The union members in Southern California who drive buses for the Alhambra, Glendale and Pasadena school districts wanted better pay and health benefits, and had concerns about poor working conditions. Teamsters Local 572, which represents drivers in all three districts, rejected two offers from First Student and then decided to strike, according to the Pasadena Star-News. About 3,000 students in those districts take the bus.

A First Student spokesman told the Pasadena Star-News that the company offered to cover 60 percent of employees’ health care premiums.

In Seattle, the company currently gives full- and part-time drivers up to $1,900 in annual stipends to pay for health premiums. The company’s current offer would pay 80 percent of the premiums for full- and part-time employees as well as 80 percent for the dependents of full-time employees. The union has rejected the offer but hasn’t said publicly what it wants to get. The sides are also at odds over retirement benefits.

In Montreal, 330 school-bus drivers went on strike after negotiations stalled with Autobus Transco, which is owned by First Student. The drivers, represented by a Quebec union, wanted a pay increase and a three-year contract, while the company wanted a five-year contract.

The strike affected about 15,000 Montreal students.

Steilacoom, Pierce County, bus drivers went on strike against First Student in May 2017 to protest their hourly pay of $12.75, which they said wasn’t a livable wage. The drivers, represented by Teamsters Local 313, were only on strike for four hours before the two sides came to an agreement that workers would receive an average of $5 more per hour, the union said. Classes were delayed by two hours.

In addition to the strikes, other districts across the nation have decided to go with another bus provider over concerns about driver behavior, late arrivals and old equipment.

The Shawnee Mission School District in suburban Kansas City, Kansas, for example, changed bus companies last year after concerns about late arrivals. The district documented more than 600 cases in one school year where drivers were late or didn’t pick up students at all, The Kansas City Star reported.

Seattle school district officials have said they had no choice but to hire First Student because it was the only company to bid when its previous contract expired last year. The school district agreed to a three-year contract, worth $27 million a year, through 2020.

Paige Cornwell: 206-464-2530 or pcornwell@seattletimes.com; on Twitter @pgcornwell.

Tags: First Studentunion bustingoutsourcing
Categories: Labor News

Amtrak Train Collision Kills at Least 2 and Injures 116 Others

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 09:00

Amtrak Train Collision Kills at Least 2 and Injures 116 Others
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/04/us/amtrak-crash-south-carolina.html?h...
By YONETTE JOSEPH, ANNE-SOPHIE BOLON and CHRISTINA CARON
FEB. 4, 2018

U.S. By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER 00:34
Fatal Train Collision in South Carolina

An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami collided with a freight train early Sunday, killing at least two people and injuring at least 116 others. By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER on Publish Date February 4, 2018. Photo by Tim Dominick/The State, via Associated Press... Watch in Times Video »

An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami collided with a freight train early Sunday, killing at least two people, injuring at least 116 others and spilling thousands of gallons of fuel, according to officials.

Amtrak said its train, which was carrying eight crew members and 139 passengers, collided with a CSX train near Cayce, S.C., outside Columbia, around 2:35 a.m.

Both of the people who died were Amtrak employees, Gov. Henry McMaster said at a news conference on Sunday morning.

Drone footage of the crash broadcast by WLTX showed the site of the collision.

The CSX train was stationary, Mr. McMaster said, and appeared to be on the correct track. “It appears that Amtrak was on the wrong track,” he said.

The first engine of the freight train was torn up, he said, and the engine of the Amtrak train, Train 91, was “barely recognizable.”

“It’s a horrible thing to see — to understand the force that this involved,” Mr. McMaster said.

In a statement earlier Sunday morning, Amtrak said the lead engine and some of the passenger cars had derailed.

It was the second major crash involving an Amtrak train in less than a week. On Wednesday, a train carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat in West Virginia hit a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing a passenger in the truck.

The cause of the crash on Sunday was not immediately clear. The National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that it was beginning an investigation into the collision.

The train, operating Amtrak’s Silver Star service, originated at Pennsylvania Station in New York and was bound for Miami. The Lexington Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter that the crash occurred near Charleston Highway and Pine Ridge Road, close to Pine Ridge, S.C.

Charell Star of Maplewood, N.J., said that her mother, Lynn Winston, had decided to take the train home to Florida after a visit because she thought it would be safer than flying.

Ms. Winston, 57, was in one of the sleeper cars when the crash happened.

“She got knocked out of bed and the luggage fell on top of her,” Ms. Star said. “She’s in good spirits but she’s pretty banged up.”

Officials said that 116 of the Amtrak passengers were transferred to local hospitals and the uninjured had been taken to a Red Cross reception site at Pine Ridge Middle School. The CSX train did not have any passengers on board, Mr. McMaster said.

“We know that they are shaken up quite a bit,” Capt. Adam Myrick of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said.

Three Palmetto Health hospitals in Columbia received patients from the collision, the organization said in a statement on Sunday, including 60 adults and two children.

By The New York Times
“Based on the patients’ conditions, we expect most of the patients to be evaluated, treated and released but some are still being evaluated,” the statement said.

Mr. Cahill said a hazardous materials team had been called to the site because roughly 5,000 gallons of fuel had spilled as a result of the collision.

“We were able to secure two leaks of fuel from the trains,” he said, adding there was “no threat to the public at this time.”

“This is not our first train derailment,” said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, citing a fatal derailment in January 2005. A 42-car freight train operated by Norfolk Southern crashed into a smaller train near Granitteville, S.C., killing eight people, injuring more than 200 and leaking chlorine gas.

“It’s unfortunate that we have two fatalities,” he said of the crash on Sunday. “Our hearts are with those families right now.”

Senator Tim E. Scott, Republican of South Carolina, also expressed his condolences on Twitter to the families of those killed and those injured.

Derek Pettaway, a passenger on the train, told CNN that he had been asleep at the time of the crash, but that officials reacted swiftly and passengers were led off quickly.

“Nobody was panicking, people were in shock more than anything,” he said, according to The State’s website.

He said it was too dark to see much, but most of the cars he glimpsed ended up off the tracks but upright.

Amtrak has had a number of high-profile crashes and derailments over the years, leading to criticism from consumer advocates and government officials. Federal Railroad Administration statistics have shown that in recent years the agency has had an average of about two derailments a month, accounting for about one-quarter of all the accidents it reports.

Most derailments, however, have rarely caused more than minor injuries.

Amtrak maintains that it has been a “safe and reliable transporter of more than 30 million passengers” and that it has a strong safety record. However, after a 2016 episode in Pennsylvania in which a train hit a piece of track equipment and derailed, killing two, it said in a statement, “We need to assess how we can get better.”

Amtrak has also installed technology known as positive train control on parts of its rail network in the Northeast Corridor after passenger trains traveling well above the speed limit derailed, leaving a trail of death and injuries.

In the Amtrak crash in Virginia on Wednesday, two passengers from the truck were injured — one seriously — and hospitalized. Two members of the train’s crew and at least two passengers, including Representative Jason Lewis, Republican of Minnesota, were also hospitalized with minor injuries.

Republicans had chartered the train to carry them from Washington to the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, where the party was holding its annual policy retreat. Several lawmakers who were on the train estimated that more than half of the Republican members of the House and Senate, including Speaker Paul D. Ryan, were on board, and that many were accompanied by their spouses.

In December, a passenger train on a newly opened Amtrak routejumped the tracks on an overpass south of Tacoma, Wash., slamming rail cars into a busy highway, killing at least three people and injuring about 100 others.

In 2015, an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200. A Pennsylvania judge dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against the Amtrak engineer, saying it appeared to be an accident and not the result of criminal negligence.

Tags: Amtrak wreckhealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Amtrak Train Collision Kills at Least 2 and Injures 116 Others

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 09:00

Amtrak Train Collision Kills at Least 2 and Injures 116 Others
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/04/us/amtrak-crash-south-carolina.html?h...
By YONETTE JOSEPH, ANNE-SOPHIE BOLON and CHRISTINA CARON
FEB. 4, 2018

U.S. By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER 00:34
Fatal Train Collision in South Carolina

An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami collided with a freight train early Sunday, killing at least two people and injuring at least 116 others. By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER on Publish Date February 4, 2018. Photo by Tim Dominick/The State, via Associated Press... Watch in Times Video »

An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami collided with a freight train early Sunday, killing at least two people, injuring at least 116 others and spilling thousands of gallons of fuel, according to officials.

Amtrak said its train, which was carrying eight crew members and 139 passengers, collided with a CSX train near Cayce, S.C., outside Columbia, around 2:35 a.m.

Both of the people who died were Amtrak employees, Gov. Henry McMaster said at a news conference on Sunday morning.

Drone footage of the crash broadcast by WLTX showed the site of the collision.

The CSX train was stationary, Mr. McMaster said, and appeared to be on the correct track. “It appears that Amtrak was on the wrong track,” he said.

The first engine of the freight train was torn up, he said, and the engine of the Amtrak train, Train 91, was “barely recognizable.”

“It’s a horrible thing to see — to understand the force that this involved,” Mr. McMaster said.

In a statement earlier Sunday morning, Amtrak said the lead engine and some of the passenger cars had derailed.

It was the second major crash involving an Amtrak train in less than a week. On Wednesday, a train carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat in West Virginia hit a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing a passenger in the truck.

The cause of the crash on Sunday was not immediately clear. The National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that it was beginning an investigation into the collision.

The train, operating Amtrak’s Silver Star service, originated at Pennsylvania Station in New York and was bound for Miami. The Lexington Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter that the crash occurred near Charleston Highway and Pine Ridge Road, close to Pine Ridge, S.C.

Charell Star of Maplewood, N.J., said that her mother, Lynn Winston, had decided to take the train home to Florida after a visit because she thought it would be safer than flying.

Ms. Winston, 57, was in one of the sleeper cars when the crash happened.

“She got knocked out of bed and the luggage fell on top of her,” Ms. Star said. “She’s in good spirits but she’s pretty banged up.”

Officials said that 116 of the Amtrak passengers were transferred to local hospitals and the uninjured had been taken to a Red Cross reception site at Pine Ridge Middle School. The CSX train did not have any passengers on board, Mr. McMaster said.

“We know that they are shaken up quite a bit,” Capt. Adam Myrick of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said.

Three Palmetto Health hospitals in Columbia received patients from the collision, the organization said in a statement on Sunday, including 60 adults and two children.

By The New York Times
“Based on the patients’ conditions, we expect most of the patients to be evaluated, treated and released but some are still being evaluated,” the statement said.

Mr. Cahill said a hazardous materials team had been called to the site because roughly 5,000 gallons of fuel had spilled as a result of the collision.

“We were able to secure two leaks of fuel from the trains,” he said, adding there was “no threat to the public at this time.”

“This is not our first train derailment,” said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, citing a fatal derailment in January 2005. A 42-car freight train operated by Norfolk Southern crashed into a smaller train near Granitteville, S.C., killing eight people, injuring more than 200 and leaking chlorine gas.

“It’s unfortunate that we have two fatalities,” he said of the crash on Sunday. “Our hearts are with those families right now.”

Senator Tim E. Scott, Republican of South Carolina, also expressed his condolences on Twitter to the families of those killed and those injured.

Derek Pettaway, a passenger on the train, told CNN that he had been asleep at the time of the crash, but that officials reacted swiftly and passengers were led off quickly.

“Nobody was panicking, people were in shock more than anything,” he said, according to The State’s website.

He said it was too dark to see much, but most of the cars he glimpsed ended up off the tracks but upright.

Amtrak has had a number of high-profile crashes and derailments over the years, leading to criticism from consumer advocates and government officials. Federal Railroad Administration statistics have shown that in recent years the agency has had an average of about two derailments a month, accounting for about one-quarter of all the accidents it reports.

Most derailments, however, have rarely caused more than minor injuries.

Amtrak maintains that it has been a “safe and reliable transporter of more than 30 million passengers” and that it has a strong safety record. However, after a 2016 episode in Pennsylvania in which a train hit a piece of track equipment and derailed, killing two, it said in a statement, “We need to assess how we can get better.”

Amtrak has also installed technology known as positive train control on parts of its rail network in the Northeast Corridor after passenger trains traveling well above the speed limit derailed, leaving a trail of death and injuries.

In the Amtrak crash in Virginia on Wednesday, two passengers from the truck were injured — one seriously — and hospitalized. Two members of the train’s crew and at least two passengers, including Representative Jason Lewis, Republican of Minnesota, were also hospitalized with minor injuries.

Republicans had chartered the train to carry them from Washington to the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, where the party was holding its annual policy retreat. Several lawmakers who were on the train estimated that more than half of the Republican members of the House and Senate, including Speaker Paul D. Ryan, were on board, and that many were accompanied by their spouses.

In December, a passenger train on a newly opened Amtrak routejumped the tracks on an overpass south of Tacoma, Wash., slamming rail cars into a busy highway, killing at least three people and injuring about 100 others.

In 2015, an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200. A Pennsylvania judge dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against the Amtrak engineer, saying it appeared to be an accident and not the result of criminal negligence.

Tags: Amtrak wreckhealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Amtrak Train Collision Kills at Least 2 and Injures 116 Others

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 09:00

Amtrak Train Collision Kills at Least 2 and Injures 116 Others
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/04/us/amtrak-crash-south-carolina.html?h...
By YONETTE JOSEPH, ANNE-SOPHIE BOLON and CHRISTINA CARON
FEB. 4, 2018

U.S. By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER 00:34
Fatal Train Collision in South Carolina

An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami collided with a freight train early Sunday, killing at least two people and injuring at least 116 others. By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER on Publish Date February 4, 2018. Photo by Tim Dominick/The State, via Associated Press... Watch in Times Video »

An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami collided with a freight train early Sunday, killing at least two people, injuring at least 116 others and spilling thousands of gallons of fuel, according to officials.

Amtrak said its train, which was carrying eight crew members and 139 passengers, collided with a CSX train near Cayce, S.C., outside Columbia, around 2:35 a.m.

Both of the people who died were Amtrak employees, Gov. Henry McMaster said at a news conference on Sunday morning.

Drone footage of the crash broadcast by WLTX showed the site of the collision.

The CSX train was stationary, Mr. McMaster said, and appeared to be on the correct track. “It appears that Amtrak was on the wrong track,” he said.

The first engine of the freight train was torn up, he said, and the engine of the Amtrak train, Train 91, was “barely recognizable.”

“It’s a horrible thing to see — to understand the force that this involved,” Mr. McMaster said.

In a statement earlier Sunday morning, Amtrak said the lead engine and some of the passenger cars had derailed.

It was the second major crash involving an Amtrak train in less than a week. On Wednesday, a train carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat in West Virginia hit a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing a passenger in the truck.

The cause of the crash on Sunday was not immediately clear. The National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that it was beginning an investigation into the collision.

The train, operating Amtrak’s Silver Star service, originated at Pennsylvania Station in New York and was bound for Miami. The Lexington Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter that the crash occurred near Charleston Highway and Pine Ridge Road, close to Pine Ridge, S.C.

Charell Star of Maplewood, N.J., said that her mother, Lynn Winston, had decided to take the train home to Florida after a visit because she thought it would be safer than flying.

Ms. Winston, 57, was in one of the sleeper cars when the crash happened.

“She got knocked out of bed and the luggage fell on top of her,” Ms. Star said. “She’s in good spirits but she’s pretty banged up.”

Officials said that 116 of the Amtrak passengers were transferred to local hospitals and the uninjured had been taken to a Red Cross reception site at Pine Ridge Middle School. The CSX train did not have any passengers on board, Mr. McMaster said.

“We know that they are shaken up quite a bit,” Capt. Adam Myrick of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said.

Three Palmetto Health hospitals in Columbia received patients from the collision, the organization said in a statement on Sunday, including 60 adults and two children.

By The New York Times
“Based on the patients’ conditions, we expect most of the patients to be evaluated, treated and released but some are still being evaluated,” the statement said.

Mr. Cahill said a hazardous materials team had been called to the site because roughly 5,000 gallons of fuel had spilled as a result of the collision.

“We were able to secure two leaks of fuel from the trains,” he said, adding there was “no threat to the public at this time.”

“This is not our first train derailment,” said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, citing a fatal derailment in January 2005. A 42-car freight train operated by Norfolk Southern crashed into a smaller train near Granitteville, S.C., killing eight people, injuring more than 200 and leaking chlorine gas.

“It’s unfortunate that we have two fatalities,” he said of the crash on Sunday. “Our hearts are with those families right now.”

Senator Tim E. Scott, Republican of South Carolina, also expressed his condolences on Twitter to the families of those killed and those injured.

Derek Pettaway, a passenger on the train, told CNN that he had been asleep at the time of the crash, but that officials reacted swiftly and passengers were led off quickly.

“Nobody was panicking, people were in shock more than anything,” he said, according to The State’s website.

He said it was too dark to see much, but most of the cars he glimpsed ended up off the tracks but upright.

Amtrak has had a number of high-profile crashes and derailments over the years, leading to criticism from consumer advocates and government officials. Federal Railroad Administration statistics have shown that in recent years the agency has had an average of about two derailments a month, accounting for about one-quarter of all the accidents it reports.

Most derailments, however, have rarely caused more than minor injuries.

Amtrak maintains that it has been a “safe and reliable transporter of more than 30 million passengers” and that it has a strong safety record. However, after a 2016 episode in Pennsylvania in which a train hit a piece of track equipment and derailed, killing two, it said in a statement, “We need to assess how we can get better.”

Amtrak has also installed technology known as positive train control on parts of its rail network in the Northeast Corridor after passenger trains traveling well above the speed limit derailed, leaving a trail of death and injuries.

In the Amtrak crash in Virginia on Wednesday, two passengers from the truck were injured — one seriously — and hospitalized. Two members of the train’s crew and at least two passengers, including Representative Jason Lewis, Republican of Minnesota, were also hospitalized with minor injuries.

Republicans had chartered the train to carry them from Washington to the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, where the party was holding its annual policy retreat. Several lawmakers who were on the train estimated that more than half of the Republican members of the House and Senate, including Speaker Paul D. Ryan, were on board, and that many were accompanied by their spouses.

In December, a passenger train on a newly opened Amtrak routejumped the tracks on an overpass south of Tacoma, Wash., slamming rail cars into a busy highway, killing at least three people and injuring about 100 others.

In 2015, an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200. A Pennsylvania judge dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against the Amtrak engineer, saying it appeared to be an accident and not the result of criminal negligence.

Tags: Amtrak wreckhealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Amtrak Train Collision Kills at Least 2 and Injures 116 Others

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 09:00

Amtrak Train Collision Kills at Least 2 and Injures 116 Others
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/04/us/amtrak-crash-south-carolina.html?h...
By YONETTE JOSEPH, ANNE-SOPHIE BOLON and CHRISTINA CARON
FEB. 4, 2018

U.S. By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER 00:34
Fatal Train Collision in South Carolina

An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami collided with a freight train early Sunday, killing at least two people and injuring at least 116 others. By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER on Publish Date February 4, 2018. Photo by Tim Dominick/The State, via Associated Press... Watch in Times Video »

An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami collided with a freight train early Sunday, killing at least two people, injuring at least 116 others and spilling thousands of gallons of fuel, according to officials.

Amtrak said its train, which was carrying eight crew members and 139 passengers, collided with a CSX train near Cayce, S.C., outside Columbia, around 2:35 a.m.

Both of the people who died were Amtrak employees, Gov. Henry McMaster said at a news conference on Sunday morning.

Drone footage of the crash broadcast by WLTX showed the site of the collision.

The CSX train was stationary, Mr. McMaster said, and appeared to be on the correct track. “It appears that Amtrak was on the wrong track,” he said.

The first engine of the freight train was torn up, he said, and the engine of the Amtrak train, Train 91, was “barely recognizable.”

“It’s a horrible thing to see — to understand the force that this involved,” Mr. McMaster said.

In a statement earlier Sunday morning, Amtrak said the lead engine and some of the passenger cars had derailed.

It was the second major crash involving an Amtrak train in less than a week. On Wednesday, a train carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat in West Virginia hit a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing a passenger in the truck.

The cause of the crash on Sunday was not immediately clear. The National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that it was beginning an investigation into the collision.

The train, operating Amtrak’s Silver Star service, originated at Pennsylvania Station in New York and was bound for Miami. The Lexington Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter that the crash occurred near Charleston Highway and Pine Ridge Road, close to Pine Ridge, S.C.

Charell Star of Maplewood, N.J., said that her mother, Lynn Winston, had decided to take the train home to Florida after a visit because she thought it would be safer than flying.

Ms. Winston, 57, was in one of the sleeper cars when the crash happened.

“She got knocked out of bed and the luggage fell on top of her,” Ms. Star said. “She’s in good spirits but she’s pretty banged up.”

Officials said that 116 of the Amtrak passengers were transferred to local hospitals and the uninjured had been taken to a Red Cross reception site at Pine Ridge Middle School. The CSX train did not have any passengers on board, Mr. McMaster said.

“We know that they are shaken up quite a bit,” Capt. Adam Myrick of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said.

Three Palmetto Health hospitals in Columbia received patients from the collision, the organization said in a statement on Sunday, including 60 adults and two children.

By The New York Times
“Based on the patients’ conditions, we expect most of the patients to be evaluated, treated and released but some are still being evaluated,” the statement said.

Mr. Cahill said a hazardous materials team had been called to the site because roughly 5,000 gallons of fuel had spilled as a result of the collision.

“We were able to secure two leaks of fuel from the trains,” he said, adding there was “no threat to the public at this time.”

“This is not our first train derailment,” said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, citing a fatal derailment in January 2005. A 42-car freight train operated by Norfolk Southern crashed into a smaller train near Granitteville, S.C., killing eight people, injuring more than 200 and leaking chlorine gas.

“It’s unfortunate that we have two fatalities,” he said of the crash on Sunday. “Our hearts are with those families right now.”

Senator Tim E. Scott, Republican of South Carolina, also expressed his condolences on Twitter to the families of those killed and those injured.

Derek Pettaway, a passenger on the train, told CNN that he had been asleep at the time of the crash, but that officials reacted swiftly and passengers were led off quickly.

“Nobody was panicking, people were in shock more than anything,” he said, according to The State’s website.

He said it was too dark to see much, but most of the cars he glimpsed ended up off the tracks but upright.

Amtrak has had a number of high-profile crashes and derailments over the years, leading to criticism from consumer advocates and government officials. Federal Railroad Administration statistics have shown that in recent years the agency has had an average of about two derailments a month, accounting for about one-quarter of all the accidents it reports.

Most derailments, however, have rarely caused more than minor injuries.

Amtrak maintains that it has been a “safe and reliable transporter of more than 30 million passengers” and that it has a strong safety record. However, after a 2016 episode in Pennsylvania in which a train hit a piece of track equipment and derailed, killing two, it said in a statement, “We need to assess how we can get better.”

Amtrak has also installed technology known as positive train control on parts of its rail network in the Northeast Corridor after passenger trains traveling well above the speed limit derailed, leaving a trail of death and injuries.

In the Amtrak crash in Virginia on Wednesday, two passengers from the truck were injured — one seriously — and hospitalized. Two members of the train’s crew and at least two passengers, including Representative Jason Lewis, Republican of Minnesota, were also hospitalized with minor injuries.

Republicans had chartered the train to carry them from Washington to the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, where the party was holding its annual policy retreat. Several lawmakers who were on the train estimated that more than half of the Republican members of the House and Senate, including Speaker Paul D. Ryan, were on board, and that many were accompanied by their spouses.

In December, a passenger train on a newly opened Amtrak routejumped the tracks on an overpass south of Tacoma, Wash., slamming rail cars into a busy highway, killing at least three people and injuring about 100 others.

In 2015, an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200. A Pennsylvania judge dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against the Amtrak engineer, saying it appeared to be an accident and not the result of criminal negligence.

Tags: Amtrak wreckhealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Amtrak Train Collision Kills at Least 2 and Injures 116 Others

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 09:00

Amtrak Train Collision Kills at Least 2 and Injures 116 Others
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/04/us/amtrak-crash-south-carolina.html?h...
By YONETTE JOSEPH, ANNE-SOPHIE BOLON and CHRISTINA CARON
FEB. 4, 2018

U.S. By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER 00:34
Fatal Train Collision in South Carolina

An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami collided with a freight train early Sunday, killing at least two people and injuring at least 116 others. By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER on Publish Date February 4, 2018. Photo by Tim Dominick/The State, via Associated Press... Watch in Times Video »

An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami collided with a freight train early Sunday, killing at least two people, injuring at least 116 others and spilling thousands of gallons of fuel, according to officials.

Amtrak said its train, which was carrying eight crew members and 139 passengers, collided with a CSX train near Cayce, S.C., outside Columbia, around 2:35 a.m.

Both of the people who died were Amtrak employees, Gov. Henry McMaster said at a news conference on Sunday morning.

Drone footage of the crash broadcast by WLTX showed the site of the collision.

The CSX train was stationary, Mr. McMaster said, and appeared to be on the correct track. “It appears that Amtrak was on the wrong track,” he said.

The first engine of the freight train was torn up, he said, and the engine of the Amtrak train, Train 91, was “barely recognizable.”

“It’s a horrible thing to see — to understand the force that this involved,” Mr. McMaster said.

In a statement earlier Sunday morning, Amtrak said the lead engine and some of the passenger cars had derailed.

It was the second major crash involving an Amtrak train in less than a week. On Wednesday, a train carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat in West Virginia hit a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing a passenger in the truck.

The cause of the crash on Sunday was not immediately clear. The National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that it was beginning an investigation into the collision.

The train, operating Amtrak’s Silver Star service, originated at Pennsylvania Station in New York and was bound for Miami. The Lexington Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter that the crash occurred near Charleston Highway and Pine Ridge Road, close to Pine Ridge, S.C.

Charell Star of Maplewood, N.J., said that her mother, Lynn Winston, had decided to take the train home to Florida after a visit because she thought it would be safer than flying.

Ms. Winston, 57, was in one of the sleeper cars when the crash happened.

“She got knocked out of bed and the luggage fell on top of her,” Ms. Star said. “She’s in good spirits but she’s pretty banged up.”

Officials said that 116 of the Amtrak passengers were transferred to local hospitals and the uninjured had been taken to a Red Cross reception site at Pine Ridge Middle School. The CSX train did not have any passengers on board, Mr. McMaster said.

“We know that they are shaken up quite a bit,” Capt. Adam Myrick of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said.

Three Palmetto Health hospitals in Columbia received patients from the collision, the organization said in a statement on Sunday, including 60 adults and two children.

By The New York Times
“Based on the patients’ conditions, we expect most of the patients to be evaluated, treated and released but some are still being evaluated,” the statement said.

Mr. Cahill said a hazardous materials team had been called to the site because roughly 5,000 gallons of fuel had spilled as a result of the collision.

“We were able to secure two leaks of fuel from the trains,” he said, adding there was “no threat to the public at this time.”

“This is not our first train derailment,” said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, citing a fatal derailment in January 2005. A 42-car freight train operated by Norfolk Southern crashed into a smaller train near Granitteville, S.C., killing eight people, injuring more than 200 and leaking chlorine gas.

“It’s unfortunate that we have two fatalities,” he said of the crash on Sunday. “Our hearts are with those families right now.”

Senator Tim E. Scott, Republican of South Carolina, also expressed his condolences on Twitter to the families of those killed and those injured.

Derek Pettaway, a passenger on the train, told CNN that he had been asleep at the time of the crash, but that officials reacted swiftly and passengers were led off quickly.

“Nobody was panicking, people were in shock more than anything,” he said, according to The State’s website.

He said it was too dark to see much, but most of the cars he glimpsed ended up off the tracks but upright.

Amtrak has had a number of high-profile crashes and derailments over the years, leading to criticism from consumer advocates and government officials. Federal Railroad Administration statistics have shown that in recent years the agency has had an average of about two derailments a month, accounting for about one-quarter of all the accidents it reports.

Most derailments, however, have rarely caused more than minor injuries.

Amtrak maintains that it has been a “safe and reliable transporter of more than 30 million passengers” and that it has a strong safety record. However, after a 2016 episode in Pennsylvania in which a train hit a piece of track equipment and derailed, killing two, it said in a statement, “We need to assess how we can get better.”

Amtrak has also installed technology known as positive train control on parts of its rail network in the Northeast Corridor after passenger trains traveling well above the speed limit derailed, leaving a trail of death and injuries.

In the Amtrak crash in Virginia on Wednesday, two passengers from the truck were injured — one seriously — and hospitalized. Two members of the train’s crew and at least two passengers, including Representative Jason Lewis, Republican of Minnesota, were also hospitalized with minor injuries.

Republicans had chartered the train to carry them from Washington to the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, where the party was holding its annual policy retreat. Several lawmakers who were on the train estimated that more than half of the Republican members of the House and Senate, including Speaker Paul D. Ryan, were on board, and that many were accompanied by their spouses.

In December, a passenger train on a newly opened Amtrak routejumped the tracks on an overpass south of Tacoma, Wash., slamming rail cars into a busy highway, killing at least three people and injuring about 100 others.

In 2015, an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200. A Pennsylvania judge dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against the Amtrak engineer, saying it appeared to be an accident and not the result of criminal negligence.

Tags: Amtrak wreckhealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Amtrak Train Collision Kills at Least 2 and Injures 116 Others

Sun, 02/04/2018 - 08:59

Amtrak Train Collision Kills at Least 2 and Injures 116 Others
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/04/us/amtrak-crash-south-carolina.html?h...
By YONETTE JOSEPH, ANNE-SOPHIE BOLON and CHRISTINA CARON
FEB. 4, 2018

U.S. By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER 00:34
Fatal Train Collision in South Carolina

An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami collided with a freight train early Sunday, killing at least two people and injuring at least 116 others. By AINARA TIEFENTHÄLER on Publish Date February 4, 2018. Photo by Tim Dominick/The State, via Associated Press... Watch in Times Video »

An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Miami collided with a freight train early Sunday, killing at least two people, injuring at least 116 others and spilling thousands of gallons of fuel, according to officials.

Amtrak said its train, which was carrying eight crew members and 139 passengers, collided with a CSX train near Cayce, S.C., outside Columbia, around 2:35 a.m.

Both of the people who died were Amtrak employees, Gov. Henry McMaster said at a news conference on Sunday morning.

Drone footage of the crash broadcast by WLTX showed the site of the collision.

The CSX train was stationary, Mr. McMaster said, and appeared to be on the correct track. “It appears that Amtrak was on the wrong track,” he said.

The first engine of the freight train was torn up, he said, and the engine of the Amtrak train, Train 91, was “barely recognizable.”

“It’s a horrible thing to see — to understand the force that this involved,” Mr. McMaster said.

In a statement earlier Sunday morning, Amtrak said the lead engine and some of the passenger cars had derailed.

It was the second major crash involving an Amtrak train in less than a week. On Wednesday, a train carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat in West Virginia hit a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing a passenger in the truck.

The cause of the crash on Sunday was not immediately clear. The National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter that it was beginning an investigation into the collision.

The train, operating Amtrak’s Silver Star service, originated at Pennsylvania Station in New York and was bound for Miami. The Lexington Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter that the crash occurred near Charleston Highway and Pine Ridge Road, close to Pine Ridge, S.C.

Charell Star of Maplewood, N.J., said that her mother, Lynn Winston, had decided to take the train home to Florida after a visit because she thought it would be safer than flying.

Ms. Winston, 57, was in one of the sleeper cars when the crash happened.

“She got knocked out of bed and the luggage fell on top of her,” Ms. Star said. “She’s in good spirits but she’s pretty banged up.”

Officials said that 116 of the Amtrak passengers were transferred to local hospitals and the uninjured had been taken to a Red Cross reception site at Pine Ridge Middle School. The CSX train did not have any passengers on board, Mr. McMaster said.

“We know that they are shaken up quite a bit,” Capt. Adam Myrick of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said.

Three Palmetto Health hospitals in Columbia received patients from the collision, the organization said in a statement on Sunday, including 60 adults and two children.

By The New York Times
“Based on the patients’ conditions, we expect most of the patients to be evaluated, treated and released but some are still being evaluated,” the statement said.

Mr. Cahill said a hazardous materials team had been called to the site because roughly 5,000 gallons of fuel had spilled as a result of the collision.

“We were able to secure two leaks of fuel from the trains,” he said, adding there was “no threat to the public at this time.”

“This is not our first train derailment,” said Derrec Becker of the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, citing a fatal derailment in January 2005. A 42-car freight train operated by Norfolk Southern crashed into a smaller train near Granitteville, S.C., killing eight people, injuring more than 200 and leaking chlorine gas.

“It’s unfortunate that we have two fatalities,” he said of the crash on Sunday. “Our hearts are with those families right now.”

Senator Tim E. Scott, Republican of South Carolina, also expressed his condolences on Twitter to the families of those killed and those injured.

Derek Pettaway, a passenger on the train, told CNN that he had been asleep at the time of the crash, but that officials reacted swiftly and passengers were led off quickly.

“Nobody was panicking, people were in shock more than anything,” he said, according to The State’s website.

He said it was too dark to see much, but most of the cars he glimpsed ended up off the tracks but upright.

Amtrak has had a number of high-profile crashes and derailments over the years, leading to criticism from consumer advocates and government officials. Federal Railroad Administration statistics have shown that in recent years the agency has had an average of about two derailments a month, accounting for about one-quarter of all the accidents it reports.

Most derailments, however, have rarely caused more than minor injuries.

Amtrak maintains that it has been a “safe and reliable transporter of more than 30 million passengers” and that it has a strong safety record. However, after a 2016 episode in Pennsylvania in which a train hit a piece of track equipment and derailed, killing two, it said in a statement, “We need to assess how we can get better.”

Amtrak has also installed technology known as positive train control on parts of its rail network in the Northeast Corridor after passenger trains traveling well above the speed limit derailed, leaving a trail of death and injuries.

In the Amtrak crash in Virginia on Wednesday, two passengers from the truck were injured — one seriously — and hospitalized. Two members of the train’s crew and at least two passengers, including Representative Jason Lewis, Republican of Minnesota, were also hospitalized with minor injuries.

Republicans had chartered the train to carry them from Washington to the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia, where the party was holding its annual policy retreat. Several lawmakers who were on the train estimated that more than half of the Republican members of the House and Senate, including Speaker Paul D. Ryan, were on board, and that many were accompanied by their spouses.

In December, a passenger train on a newly opened Amtrak routejumped the tracks on an overpass south of Tacoma, Wash., slamming rail cars into a busy highway, killing at least three people and injuring about 100 others.

In 2015, an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200. A Pennsylvania judge dismissed involuntary manslaughter charges against the Amtrak engineer, saying it appeared to be an accident and not the result of criminal negligence.

Tags: Amtrak wreckhealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

'Bomb Train': Oil Execs Try to Blame Workers for Tragic Accident

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 14:07

'Bomb Train': Oil Execs Try to Blame Workers for Tragic Accident
http://therealnews.com/t2/story:20976:%27Bomb-Train%27%3A-Oil-Execs-Try-...
January 26, 2018

All three MMA rail workers were acquitted of criminal charges in the Lac-Megantic disaster case -- but Fritz Edler, veteran locomotive engineer and longtime union officer, says "the wrong people were on trial," and that the industry ignores known risks

Fritz Edler is a veteran locomotive engineer and wreck investigator, with 40 years of railroad experience. Became chair of the Harding and Labrie Defense Committee after hearing Harding's attorney speak @ a Community Rail safety conference in Chicago. I've made 8 investigative trips to Canada in conjunction with the defense as well as supporting the rail safety efforts of the Lac-M�gantic citizens.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: This is Dimitri Lascaris for The Real News reporting from Montreal, Quebec. The small town of Lac-Mégantic in Quebec's historic Eastern Townships will forever be associated with one of the deadliest accidents in Canadian history. On the morning of July 6, 2013, a crude oil train explosion killed 47 people. The train was carrying volatile crude oil from the Bakken Shale oilfields of North Dakota. It derailed and exploded, killing residents and destroying the town's downtown area. The mass funeral in the town of just over 5,000 persons was broadcast live across Canada. It became a national day of mourning.

Over four years later, on Friday of last week, a Canadian jury found three former rail workers not guilty of criminal negligence causing the deaths of Lac-Megantic residents. The question must now be asked, why were the workers charged for this tragedy? Moreover, why was no executive of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway Company prosecuted? With us to discuss this, I am pleased to be joined by veteran train engineer and wreck investigator Fritz Edler, chairperson of the defense committee for Tom Harding and Richard Labrie, two of the workers who were charged and found not guilty. Fritz joins us today from Washington, D.C. Fritz, thank you very much for joining us on The Real News.

FRITZ EDLER: Pleasure. Glad to be with you.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: Fritz, let's start by talking about the basic allegations against the acquitted railway workers. What was the essential basis of the Crown's allegations of criminal negligence and in your view, why did the prosecution fail?

FRITZ EDLER: Well, it seemed plain to us from the beginning that this was putting the things in the wrong order. In other words, for the people in the town and for people in Canada and across North America who wanted to know why this wreck took place and what we could do to prevent it, it was completely wrong to start out from just moments after, days after the wreck with an exclusive focus on Tom Harding and then later his coworker, Richard Labrie, and decide that the way to find out about this wreck would be to do a criminal prosecution instead of what the people in the community wanted, which was a commission of inquiry. That real public inquiry has never taken place.

This is the absolute worst way to find out why a wreck took place and who is really responsible. Instead, what the government did was they took their lead from the industry. They took their lead from Ed Burkhardt, the chair of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railroad, who in Megantic began to accuse Tom Harding of responsibility exclusively. The government took that up and made that their focus, and never really seriously pursued the broader issues for prosecution.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: Essentially, in your view, what was it that happened at the trial? I appreciate you may not be a legal expert but as somebody who is a veteran wreck investigator, why do you think this case fell apart in the end?

FRITZ EDLER: I have been called into Lac-Mégantic and to Quebec eight almost, I guess eight times now, in the case of this campaign, this trial. And I've had a chance to see on the ground firsthand, not only as a railroader but also as somebody who is a supporter of Tom Harding and Richard Labrie, exactly how things were on the ground. One of the things you found out is that if you walk the streets of Lac-Mégantic and you ask people, they would tell you most often that, "They got the wrong people. The wrong people are on trial."

There was a good understanding from early on, and this was very frustrating to the people who live there because it really made it that much more unlikely that they were really going to get accountability and justice for their losses, and really get to the core of the problems. One of the problems was that the railroad still operates through the town of Lac-Mégantic and still presents the same kinds of problems because those problems stem from risky and dangerous management decisions.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: Let's talk about those problems. What in your view are the principal problems that led to this particular disaster and may create dangers in the future?

FRITZ EDLER: Well, frankly, what it was was the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic, and they're not alone in this in the industry, where in such a big hurry to make the big money that they could make from the transport of this highly volatile oil that they just threw all other cautions aside.

As a railroader, one of the very first things that hit me when I drove from Nantes into Lac-Mégantic was to see the derail-protected siding that exists in Nantes and is built there for the purpose of securing equipment to prevent it from rolling down a grade, for example. That's what it was built for and the MMA wouldn't use it. They made sure they couldn't use it by making the train too long. They just had to get that couple of extra cars and couple of extra gallons or tons.

Those factors, there's plenty of others, everything from operating that most dangerous kind of a train with only one crew member, which meant that the train could only go forward. It couldn't go back. It couldn't split. It couldn't do any of those things that might be critically important in any number of situations. By policy, and in the weeks and months before July 6, 2013, the community was put at risk, the workers were put at risk and it was done for money.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: Just for the benefit of members of our audience who aren't aware of the specifics of this tragedy. The train rolled down a grade and that resulted ultimately in the explosion that killed 47 people, right?

FRITZ EDLER: That's correct. What happened was that they made the train risky by policy and by practice, and then they purposefully didn't use all of the resources that were available to protect. That came out in the trial. One of the things that came out in the trial after 34 government witnesses, was that the inadequate and known inadequate cars for transporting these oils were even yet more overloaded, overloaded beyond because they could get a little more in there and get more money. So, they put it even more at risk. All of these factors, including the prohibition from the crews being able to use the automatic braking system to secure the equipment, as a supplemental way of securing the equipment, that rolled through the rail industry in North America. When railroaders like myself, locomotive engineers, found out that that was their policy, that's the very first thing. That's railroading 101. That's what we do. We put an automatic brake on the train. That's one of the ways that we secure it. That system was available to them and they threatened Tom Harding and other crew members with discipline if they did it.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: Are these railway workers out of the woods yet or do they remain exposed to criminal prosecution from another authority?

FRITZ EDLER: Yeah. This actually is the big thing because all across the world, people who know the name Lac-Mégantic heard that the rail workers were acquitted on the 19th of January of all the charges against them. There was a big cheer in many different sectors, including in the community of Lac-Mégantic. They thought that this was progress.

Then, in short order, within days of that, we received word that on February 5th, Tom Harding and Richard Labrie are called back to the courthouse to face federal charges, federal charges under the Railway Safety Act, federal charges under the Fisheries Act. These charges still carry with them the possibility of jail time and ruinous fines for these individuals who have already suffered so much.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: This really raises a question about the nature of regulation of the railway industry in Canada. Who's responsible for regulating the transportation of oil by rail in Canada and do you think that this organization is under the undue influence of the industry, and that that's played a role in the apparent decision not to prosecute any of the executives for these dangerous policies that you've outlined?

FRITZ EDLER: Fortunately, we know more about this because of some of the testimony that came out in the course of the prosecution witnesses in the trial. A lot of that material, which normally might never reach the public, actually was part of the trial testimony. There's also material related to this in the two investigative reports, one that was done by the Sûreté of Quebec. Early on for the Sûreté and then also by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada in particular identified 18, originally 19 factors that were the factors that were responsible for the wreck and the devastation.

What's pretty obvious is that Mr. Harding and Mr. Labrie have nothing to do with most all of them, and it identifies Transport Canada, for example. Transport Canada is identified as the regulating agency that's supposed to oversee a lot of these things, and their failures, their enabling of these dangerous practices. A lot of this stuff is out there, but unfortunately, because there's never really been a proper commission of inquiry and there is no plan evident for a real prosecution of those things, I don't know that we are going to ever see the real culprits of these decisions brought to justice.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: For instance, we've seen other bomb train explosions, as they've been dubbed. There was one in Illinois near the Wisconsin border, one in Ontario where seven tanker cars caught fire, another in Mount Carbon, Virginia. A 19-car oil explosion darkened the sky above the town. In the light of these various dangerous and destructive incidents of oil by rail, have there been safety measures put in place, whether south of the border or in Canada, that are meaningfully addressing the dangers that cause these incidents?

FRITZ EDLER: First I'd like to step back and say that some of the disasters that are happening on the railroads that aren't explosions are still as a part of the same problems that we're describing here about the risky decisions that are made solely for the purpose of saving money or some other priority other than the safety of the communities. But, I could mention the example of the wreck of Amtrak 501 outside of Seattle or the Amtrak train 188 outside of Philadelphia.

In each of those cases, we could talk about a lot of these things but in terms of the measures about the so-called bomb trains, what we can say is that the industry and the regulators have both been slow to respond. The type of container that these were shipped in, the type of tank cars which were known to be inadequate for most of the dangers that are posed by that kind of transportation, those got some upgrades. But it turns out that the upgrades were insufficient, and there isn't enough for the fleet. And as the market fluctuates and the pressure is on to put more of this stuff on the railroads, there's no guarantee that from a structural point of view you won't have the kind of situation that was testified to in the Harding and Labrie trial, where the railroad put even more volatile oil beyond the capacity of the safety limits of these cars just because they could. Every ton of extra was more money.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: This has been Dimitri Lascaris speaking to veteran wreck investigator Fritz Edler, chairperson of the defense committee for Tom Harding and Richard Labrie about the acquittal of three railway workers in connection with the oil by rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. Thank you very much for joining us today, Fritz.

FRITZ EDLER: Thank you, sir.

DIMITRI LASCARIS: This is Dimitri Lascaris reporting for The Real News.

Tags: Blaming Rail WorkersBosses CrimesMurder On The RailsProfiteering Kill Communities
Categories: Labor News

The Evidence is in: The Train Crew did not Cause the Lac-Mégantic Tragedy Sign The Petition

Mon, 01/29/2018 - 13:03

The Evidence is in: The Train Crew did not Cause the Lac-Mégantic Tragedy

http://hardingdefense.org
DROP THE CHARGES against Tom Harding and Richard Labrie

Drop ALL the Charges against Tom Harding and Richard Labrie NOW
Target: The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
It's A Rail Safety Emergency! Rail Workers Face New Federal Charges After Acquittal in Lac-Mégantic Criminal Trial. Another Scapegoat Trial won't get us Rail Safety.

Call on the Canadian Ministry of Justice Today

Drop ALL the Charges! Time for a real public inquiry into the causes of the wreck

The Canadian government had a choice after the July 2013 runaway oil train wreck that killed 47 people and destroyed the downtown of Lac-Mégantic Québec. They could focus on rail safety to make sure tragedies like this would not happen again, or they could focus only on a couple rail workers and avoid the inquiry. They made the wrong choice, pushing criminal charges against Tom Harding and Richard Labrie.

Four and half years later, the jury found Harding and Labrie not guilty of all charges. Finally the Canadian government should have to take a careful look at rail safety.

Once again, the Canadian government made the wrong choice. Instead of starting a full-scale public inquiry into the causes of the crash, they are bringing Harding and Labrie back into court on February 5, 2018 to face a set of federal charges.

Enough is enough. Criminal trials are the absolute worst way to uncover all the different factors that led up to the Lac-Mégantic crash, factors that are still out there on the rails across Canada and the US. We all need real rail safety. Call the Canadian Minister of Justice at 613-957-4222. Tell her Drop ALL The Charges Now.

Add your name to call on the Justice Ministry to pay attention now and drop the charges.

Sponsored by

Harding and Labrie Defense Committee
To: The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
From: [Your Name]

It’s Time To Drop ALL Charges Against the Rail Workers

It is more than 4 years since the tragic train wreck in Lac-Mégantic QC. Now is the time for your office to stop a continuing injustice, the prosecution of railroad workers Tom Harding and Richard Labrie under the Canadian Railway Safety Act and other laws.

The record has established that the actions of Tom Harding and Richard Labrie did not cause this tragedy. Continuing to prosecute the railworkers in this case does not advance rail safety. We, the undersigned, call on those charged with administering justice to do their part now and drop ALL the charges.

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Only 464 more until our goal of 3,200
Sign This Petition

Tags: Harding defense committeeRail safetyLac-Mégantic Tragedy
Categories: Labor News

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