February 11, 2014

CHICAGO (Feb.11)—The Illinois General Assembly is adjourned this week, and legislators are back in their local offices talking with constituents.

Which means the time is right for SMART-TD members to call—or even visit—to ask their state senators to support a joint resolution urging Congress to mandate two-person crews on all freight trains.

“The recent runaway-train accident that killed 47 people happened partly because the lone employee assigned to the train simply was unable to secure enough hand brakes to hold the train if it lost its air,” said SMART-TD Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy.

Guy said federal legislation is needed to ensure that a lone employee will not have to bear sole responsibility for giant trains or dangerous cargoes.

“Congress is deliberating HR 3040, The Safe Freight Act now,” he said. “This legislation contains language mandating no fewer than two certified employees on all U.S. freight trains operated by all classes of U.S. railroads.

“Now we’re looking for the Illinois General Assembly to send a message to Congress urging passage of the Safe Freight Act, and there’s no more effective way to do that than by mobilizing the grass-roots power of our members.”

Guy said this week is the ideal time because the General Assembly is in adjournment and all members are back in their local districts and waiting to hear from and meet constituents.

“SMART-TD urges each member in Illinois to phone their state senator at his or her district office,” Guy said.

“Or, if convenient, drop in and visit briefly to ask your legislator’s support for SJR50,” he said. SJR50 is a joint Senate/House resolution calling on Congress to pass the Safe Freight Act.”

SJR50 was introduced on February 4, 2014 by State Senator Martin Sandoval and has bi-partisan sponsorship and support.

“If you don’t know your state senator, just go to the ‘Legislative Lookup’ feature at www.illini.utu.org and input your address,” Guy said. “It will give you the names of your legislator and his or her district office address and phone number.