Rail Safety Advocates Join Rep. Tim Walz And REMSA Member Miller Ingenuity for Worker Protection Product Demonstration, Tour
WINONA, MN - On August 22, 2017, Congressman Tim Walz (D-MN-1) joined representatives from Miller Ingenuity, Operation Lifesaver, Inc., and local railroads for a product demonstration of Miller’s roadway worker protection safety system ZoneGuard, a tour of their Winona manufacturing plant, and a discussion on rail safety programs and continued economic development in Winona. The Railway Engineering-Maintenance and Suppliers Association (REMSA), a non-profit trade group representing over 340 railway engineers, contractors, consultants, and suppliers across the country, coordinated the event. The $5 billion maintenance of way industry supports over 35,000 jobs nationwide.
Miller Ingenuity, founded over 60 years ago, is an industry leader in inventing, engineering, and delivering high-technology, safety-critical solutions for railway worker protection. Miller Ingenuity equips railway operators with the ability to mobilize passengers and freight with zero error. Miller Ingenuity’s products, led by the ZoneGuard suite, offer frontline defense solutions that benefit all functional departments of railway companies.
Winkler, Blue, and Rep. Walz
The tour was led by Miller Ingenuity President and CEO Steve Blue. The group was also joined by Mayor Mark Peterson, City of Winona. The group visited Miller Ingenuity’s Creation Station to view a live demo of ZoneGuard, Miller’s electronic roadway worker protection system that uses a sophisticated communication network to warn railway workers of approaching track vehicles in an active work zone. Additionally, attendees were given a tour of ZoneGuard’s manufacturing assembly area and discussed the product’s operational features with Miller’s leadership and engineering team.
“Congressman Walz has long been a champion for economic development and sound public policy and we are pleased to host him today,” said Blue. “Miller Ingenuity is committed to providing freight railroads and transit systems with the latest technology needed to keep their workforces safe. We greatly appreciate the Congressman’s and Mayor Peterson’s commitment to creating a safe and thriving railroad network, which allows suppliers to continue to invest in their communities.”
Congressman Tim Walz is currently serving his sixth term representing Minnesota’s First Congressional District. He proudly represents Minnesota on the House Agriculture and Veterans’ Affairs Committees. Rep. Walz serves as the Ranking Member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. He is happily married and the father of two. As he has since taking office, Rep. Walz will continue to make investing in our nation's infrastructure a priority in Congress.
“I greatly appreciate the opportunity to tour Miller Ingenuity and learn more about their Winona-made safety products and systems,” said Rep. Walz. “I look forward working together to create jobs, spur economic development across the state, and ensure our communities are safely and efficiently served by freight and passenger rail service alike.”
Blue, Rep. Walz, and Skarlupka on Tour
The group highlighted Congressman Walz’s vote for the 2015 FAST Act, which authorized increased funding for the Section 130 program designed to eliminate hazards at railway-highway crossings and enhance safety for all users. Additionally, advocates pushed for full funding of the TIGER and the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grants Program for Fiscal Year 2018.
The group was also joined by Minnesota Operation Lifesaver, Inc., a statewide nonprofit, affiliated with Operation Lifesaver, Inc. whose mission is to raise awareness and provide free education to drivers and pedestrians alike about how to make safer decisions around tracks and trains in an effort to bring the number of preventable tragedies closer to zero. Since the organization began educating people nationwide in the 1970's there has been an over 80% reduction in collisions between vehicles and trains. However, crossing collisions remain a continuing concern.
"Well over 90% of rail-related fatalities annually involve a vehicle going through a crossing or a person on the tracks," said Sheryl Cummings, Executive Director, Minnesota Operation Lifesaver. “Although we have strong partnerships in both the engineering and enforcement aspects, this number points out how important education is to our program. We appreciate the opportunity to join Miller Ingenuity, REMSA, and Congressman Walz to raise awareness of rail safety."
Blue, Skarlupka, Rep. Walz Product Demo
Also in attendance were Dennis Egan, Minnesota Regional Railroad Association; Christine Nestor, Marketing & Communications Specialist, Miller Ingenuity; Della Schmidt, President, Winona Chamber of Commerce; Randy Skarlupka, Vice President, Operations, Miller Ingenuity; Liisa Stark, Assistant Vice President, Public Affairs, Union Pacific and; Sean Winkler, Director of Advocacy, REMSA.
In Minnesota, 19 freight railroads operate over 4,200 track miles and employ over 4,500. Eighteen REMSA members maintain operations in Minnesota.
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