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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Eagle

Amtrak conductors, engineers fail drug test

Seventeen Amtrak employees failed company-run drug tests in 2011, according to a recent report released by Amtrak Inspector General Ted Alves.

These employees were in “safety-sensitive positions” such as engineers and conductors, the report said.

The report determined that Amtrak is not controlling substance abuse.

“Amtrak runs a safe railroad today and we are committed to making further safety improvements for passengers and employees,” the company said in an unsigned email to The Eagle.

Suggestions for improvement in the report included raising the amount of annual drug testing, training supervisors to recognize signs of abuse and engaging senior management in the process.

The findings represent a small sample of employees. Federal guidelines only mandate one-fourth of workers be tested, and the most recent test covered almost one-third.

Amtrak plans to raise testing to 50 percent of their employees due to the results of the latest tests, Alves’ report said.

Current screening procedures were put in place after a collision in 1987 in Chase, Md. The engineer of a Conrail train, which collided with an Amtrak train, was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident.

Findings prompt student worry

Many AU students use Amtrak to travel between school and home because it has multiple routes along the east coast.

Kate Wiznitzer, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, uses the system to travel home to Stamford, Conn., for school breaks.

“I’ve never had a problem with Amtrak, but this does make me hesitant in the future,” she said.

Daniel Hovaness, a freshman in the School of International Studies, said he also uses Amtrak to go home for long school vacations.

“I though it was worrisome but not a major concern in my travel,” he said.

Hovaness said the company should perform substance tests more often but that the findings didn’t warrant anything “radical.”

Wiznitzer agreed there should be more testing.

“It should be mandatory testing for everyone,” Wiznitzer said. “It only takes one person to jeopardize someone’s safety.”

news@theeagleonline.com


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