Union reacts to computer-run train test: ‘That’s not the real world’

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WASHINGTON – Hours after New York Air Brake announced that it had run a heavy freight train with no crew on board, union officials dismissed the test as nothing more than an unrealistic experiment.

On Friday morning, the company announced that it had operated a 30-car freight train with its LEADER on-board train control and energy management system in full control. The test took place on Aug. 27 at the Transportation Technology Center Inc. test track in Pueblo, Colo.

In an interview with Trains News Wire, John Risch, National Legislative Director of SMART Transportation, North America’s largest rail trade union, notes that running a train on a secure test track is a lot easier than running one out on an actual railroad.

“That’s not real world train operations,” he says. “There were no other trains to meet, no crossings to deal with, no pedestrians around.”

Union officials have been raising the alarm in recent years that technology like LEADER and positive train control could lead to single-person train crews or even driverless trains. Union officials say either scenario would lead to a decrease in safety.

“We still need to have two people aboard every freight train in the United States,” Risch says. “Just like we still have two pilots on every plane, even though a plane can basically fly itself.”

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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