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The cost of damage to equipment, track, and roadbed, of railroad train accidents over the years 1961 to 1966, is shown in table 32 of Mr. Homer's statement.
These costs have been climbing steadily as the number of train accidents has increased.
In 1961, direct train accident costs were only about $50 million. By 1966, they had increased to over $98 million-almost 100 percent.
Every major category of train accidents showed a cost increase. The cost of equipment defect accidents rose 52 percent. The cost of maintenance of way defects accidents more than doubled, up 160 percent.
The above costs are quite incomplete. There are many other accident costs. The above figures do not include the cost of clearing wrecks, which added $23 million in 1966.
They do not include the damage to freight resulting from train accident, which in 1966 cost over $18 million.
They do not include the railroads' personal injury costs, which amounted to over $108 million.
The total of these items for the year 1966, including damage to equipment and roadbed, clearing wrecks, freight damage, and personal injury charges, was $249,078,000, plus.
An additional $47 million is estimated to be the cost of railroad employee man-days of work lost. Table No. 23 compares this amount with the Interstate Commerce Commission appropriations for railroad safety in the fiscal year ended June 30, 1966, which was only $3,257,650; 1.1 percent of the estimate of railroad accident costs.
Gentlemen, in 1893, when the Safety Applicance Act was finally enacted, there was a cost of then adding some appurtenances to the cars for change of the old lining and pin to automatic couplers.
Today, this proposed legislation, particularly what the railroad employees come before you today to beg for some relief, does not require one dime's worth of added equipment to these cars.
We only ask that they be kept in working order, that the tracks be maintained, that the places where we are required to work be maintained in a safe condition, so there is no added cost there, and I submit that without doubt, there is no cost to a carrier here.
There is money saved, when there are no accidents. As each accident is avoided, there is money saved. And while we are talking about money, this same question was asked, if you will check the record, in 1893, and William Jennings Bryan said, “We will stay here all night before we are going to let $75 stand in the way of a life.”
And we have the same thing today. How much is a life worth? How much is mine worth? How much is yours worth? How much is a leg worth? Two legs? An eye?
So when we talk about costs, let's talk about human suffering, and fatalities,
Now the cost of the Department of Transportation, I don't presume to tell you that I am the kind of an economist that could come here and tell you to direct any cost to the Department of Transportation. I can't do it.
But I want to reason with you a little bit. There are already a specified number of safety inspectors employed by the Department of Transportation. Certainly, if this proposed legislation was passed into law, these inspectors are already out, few as they are, throughout the United States, on railroad property.
Isn't it fair to assume that at the same time that they are looking at an airbrake system on a car, or a safety applicance defect, that they can inspect the other parts of that car, with some authority to do something about it?
So it is hard to figure this cost. How many more do we need ? I would certainly want to believe, I would want to think, that if this proposed legislation was passed into law, that the railroad carriers themselves would want to obey the law—at least in some respects.
Now the question there is to what extent? So how many do you need?
But I also submit, whether there is a dollar here today to appropriate to the Department of Transportation and the Railroad Safety Division, I hope you will not let that stand in the way of this legislation, because I say to you, again, for the reasons that I just outlined, give us the legislation, even though you can't put a hundred more, Ž00 men out there, as policemen, but enact it, whether there is one man, whether you even allocate a dollar this year.
I know what the situation is. The Railway Labor Executives Association knows what the situation is this year, with appropriations.
So we submit to you, just give us the law. We are here today, in all sincerity. This thing has gone too far, too long.
I have got documented evidence right here, where there are records that we don't have all the statistics, and neither does the Interstate Commerce Commission, because some of these injuries are not being reported, and those statistics that we read from are the railroads' statistics themselves, that they report to the Interstate Commerce Commission, and now to the Department of Transportation.
And gentlemen, I don't care how you juggle them, you can put them in train miles, or how much they want to carry on one car, or on their back—there is still this number of people getting killed, and this number of people being injured.
I can't give you names, because I can tell you before the sun went down, the man would lose his job, one way or another. There can be many excuses, “All of this doesn't happen." It does happen.
You know, the Association of American Railroads, a former president, coined that great phrase, of featherbedding. I have been trying to forget that, and I had a hard time remembering it.
Let me give you a good example of featherbedding. Where a man is injured, and maybe with a cast on his arm or leg, and one of the officials goes out to his house, and begs him to come down and register, and intimidation goes along with it—I can prove that, too—and finally, tells him, "Just come down to the yard officer where you report for duty and sit there today. We will have another man working in your place. You don't have to do anything."
What kind of featherbedding is that? That is an extra man. That is an extra cost to the carrier, but they don't have to report the injury, and when they pass the safety awards out at the end of the year, it looks good.
So we have got those kind of things that something ought to be done about.
Gentlemen, I hope, maybe at least your staff can review these attachments that we have given to you here. I beg you to search your hearts and your souls on this proposition, so that for the employees, particularly, and the public, we can save lives and limbs.
I thank you very much for the opportunity that you have afforded us, afforded all of our representatives here today. If we can answer any questions, other than this, we will be happy to.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chesser, for your presentation. And I gather from your presentation you are very strongly in favor of a safety bill.
Perhaps by the amendments that you have offered, that you hope to correct this in some way. Mr. CHESSER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. I would defer any questions for the present time, until a little bit later, and will ask Mr. Friedel if he has any.
Mr. FRIEDEL (presiding). I will defer my questions, as long as I preside. Mr. Macdonald. Mr. MACDONALD. Thank you, Mr. Friedel.
Mr. Chesser, I want to compliment you on a very comprehensive and strong statement.
There is a good deal of material you didn't read, and perhaps the information that I am going to ask for now is contained in there, but those casualties that you referred to, do they include passengers as well as employees?
Mr. CHESSER. Yes. Many of those statistics that we have quoted in our full text, they do, yes, sir.
Mr. MACDONALD. Right. So this safety bill wouldn't be just a safety bill for employees of the railroads, but it is a public safety bill.
Mr. CHESSER. No, sir, by no means. It certainly would cover the public.
Mr. MACDONALD. All right.
Now, in your amendments, I haven't had a chance, as I don't think anyone in the committee has, to go through them all. Do you go to the design, perhaps, of new cars that are being put on? And the background for this question is this: In my own district, in Massachusetts, the Budd Liners are about the only kind of car that carries passengers anymore.
Regular passenger cars, they have got up in a museum, so that children can see what a passenger car is like. We see a lot of freight cars, but we don't see many passenger cars, and within a period of about, I would say, 2 months, there were three wrecks of the Budd Liners, and one of them, in particular, in which the fatalities were quite high, occurred in a railroad crossing between Everett, Mass., and Chelsea, Mass., right on the boundary, and they had a hearing, the State Utilities Corporation did, and they found out that one of the things that led to fatalities was that the door of the Budd Liner, instead of opening out, opened in, and the people couldn't get out, and a fire broke out, and so forth, and it was my understanding, although I didn't have the opportunity to attend the hearing, that had the Budd Liner's car door been going out, instead of in, that many lives would have been saved, and that is rather a long explanation of why I asked you this question.
Is there any place in your amendments—any recommendations as to safety features in design?
Mr. CHESSER. Well, the legislation would give the Department of Transportation some authority in this area. On that B. & M. wreck there, up in your area
Mr. MACDONALD. Boston & Maine, right.
Mr. CHESSER (continuing). The Safety Board, in their investigation, recommended that; that the door be changed to open out.
Mr. MACDONALD. Well, there is a good deal of difference between making a recommendation, at which the Government is very goodmaking recommendations—but if you don't have any teeth to implement the recommendation, it doesn't seem to me to do much good.
Mr. CHESSER. Well, on page 3 of the bill
Mr. MACDONALD. It is a 1-day wonder, and everyone gets pious for a week or so, and then everyone forgets about it, except the families of those people who have been killed.
Mr. CHESSER. On page 3 of the bill, Mr. Macdonald, this is outlined. Minimum standards, governing the use, design, materials, workmanship, installation and construction and performance of rail facilities, and that is identified as section 3(a)(1).
Mr. MACDONALD. Well, section 3, as Í have read it, merely says that he can recommend, as you point out, and to promote safety; but what can he do if the railroads don't follow the recommendation?
Mr. BERNSTEIN. Mr. Congressman, under this bill, he could prescribe regulations covering design. He could have inspection techniques covering design.
As a matter of fact, in our amendments, in order to assure that that power would extend to every type of equipment involved in railroading, we proposed some new definitions, which would include things that have been ignored before, like track motorcars, and the like, so between the proposed DOT bill and the amendments being proposed by the Railway Labor Executives Association, we believe that DOT would be empowered to prescribe rules and set up inspection standards for design, materiel, and so forth. Mr. MACDONALD. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chesser. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. FRIEDEL. Mr. Devine. Mr. DEVINE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Chesser, I get the impression that you don't find much favor with the railroad management.
Mr. CHESSER. No; I think you have got the wrong impression. I have got many friends.
Mr. DEVINE. I have listened to you for about an hour, and about all I could see was you were creating a monster that was growing with almost every phrase, and I presume that you are speaking for each of the 23 unions that are listed on the front of your statement.
Mr. CHESSER. Yes, sir, Mr. Devine; there is a monster growing, and the record will indicate it, by the deaths and injuries in this industry.
Now if you mean am I talking about a monster personally, among railroad officials; no, sir, I am not.
Mr. DEVINE. No; I just get the impression listening to you that you think that railroad management is setting out to kill these people.
Mr. CHESSER. Well, now, I didn't say that, Mr. Devine. I didn't say that railroad management is setting out to kill these people. I say that these conditions are there, that they should correct. And if they are corrected, lives would be saved. Yes; it is their responsibility.
Mr. DEVINE, Have you and your brotherhoods, your organizations, reached any method for the purpose of trying to work out a bill that
would be agreeable to you, your organizations, and to the railroad management, and to the Department of Transportation ?
Mr. CHESSER. Well, I don't exactly understand your question. You say, did we meet?
Mr. DEVINE. Let me clarify it this way. You, in your statement here, proposed 44 amendments.
Mr. CHESSER. Yes, sir.
Mr. DEVINE. Forty-four amendments to this bill. Now, it is going to take a lot of doing to get all of your amendments, and I presume that railroad management will come in with, I don't know whether as many, and whether or not any of them will be agreeable to the Department of Transportation and Congress; I don't know, but if you come in with a suggestion of 44 amendments, we are going to be a long, long time ever coming out with what may be an agreed bill to pass the Congress.
Mr. CHESSER. Well, Mr. Devine, you will notice that I would say, as a rough estimate, about 38—37 or 38—of those amendments are pure draftmanship that our attorney suggested. So they are not long amendments to change the bill, per se.
Mr. DEVINE. Yes. Well, one other thing that I would point out to you, and comparisons sometimes are unfair, but you point out that 2,684 human beings were killed in railroad accidents in 1966.
I would point out to you that testimony before this same committee in the area of safety and creating Federal standards, that in the year 1966, there were 53,041 people killed in automobile accidents.
As I say, comparisons are sometimes unfair, but I am not sure that the standards that we in the Congress have set are going to do any. thing about solving those particular problems.
Mr. CHESSER. Well, I think the problems I think the legislation, the very little legislation which has been passed certainly helped in the railroad industry. Now I am not an authority on the Highway Safety Act, but certainly there are many more miles traveled throughout the United States by highways. To be very honest with you, I can't make the comparison.
Mr. DEVINE. Yes. Well, I think we are all in favor of safety. The only question, I think, that is in controversy is the role that the Federal Government should play in the particular area, and I don't think the impression should be left, if we adopt this bill, or the bill as amended as you propose, that it is going to eliminate accidents.
Mr. CHESSER. You can't-I hope I didn't leave the impression or didn't say that if this bill is passed, there will be no more accidents. That certainly is not true. Mr. DEVINE. You didn't say that. Mr. CHESSER. No, sir; I did not. Mr. DEVINE. But they would be, hopefully, reduced substantially. Mr. CHESSER. Absolutely. Substantially.
Mr. DEVINE. Don't you feel that railroad management feels the same way, that they would like also to have accidents reduced substantially?
Mr. CHESSER. I am not here today telling you that there is a general manager here or a president of a railroad that has got an axe in his hand, that is going to cut the head off an employee, but I am telling you this: I have been to too many safety meetings, where these things are pointed out to them, the defects, and nothing has been done about it. Now, this is their responsibility.