Forget the driver shortage. The big question in a few years may be who's going to run the trains.
With fuel costs soaring, rail and intermodal traffic appears set to explode. The Department of Transportation has estimated that rail traffic will double in the near future.
That could be a problem, warns Ken Kertesz, chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Board of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. Kertesz sees a shortage of engineers looming."While rail service increases, our railroads face an urgent shortage of qualified, well-trained men and women to operate and manage the rail systems," he says. "Our existing work force is aging and increasingly stressed to keep up with the influx in rail traffic. We're seeing need estimates that range from 60,000 to 210,000 new rail labor workers over the next decade." Labor unions won't be able to solve the problem on their own, he adds. "We are looking at ways to work more closely with railroad management to address these shortages."