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Brooke Self
Railroad veterans and family members, Anita Deleon and Steve Armstrong, talked about their retirement plans at Coco's Restaurant Wednesday morning. The National Association of Retired and Veteran Railway Employees (NARVRE) meeting brought together about 30 people from the community to discuss their retirement annuities and recent railway news.

Railroad workers to get retirement boost in January


BARSTOW • Retired BNSF railroad workers and their families were delighted to hear they will get a cost of living increase to their retirement benefits beginning in 2013, with the announcement delivered at a meeting held by the National Association of Retired and Veteran Railway Employees Wednesday morning.

The boost in the two-tier benefit system will mean a 1.7 percent hike in tier I benefits and a 0.6 percent increase in tier II, as explained by a representative of the Railroad Retirement Board.

Railroad retirees said the cost of living increase is much needed with today’s food and gas prices.

“The increase is wonderful,” retired railroad employee David Knickerbocker said. “Every little penny helps.”

The group of 30 also raised concerns about legislation recently approved by the House of Representatives that would combine Railroad Retirement tier I benefits with the Social Security Fund. Historically, tier I benefits from the Railroad Retirement Fund have paid more than Social Security benefits and are separate from Social Security funds.

“This is survival,” Anita Deleon said. “You have to protect what you have and that’s why we’re here.”

Deleon is the spouse of a retired worker and came with him to participate in the meeting and discuss the current state of the Railroad Retirement Fund.

The group also discussed plans by a company called the Las Vegas Railway Express to begin an Amtrak-run passenger train between Las Vegas and Los Angeles Union Station beginning New Year’s Eve 2013. The train would run round trip Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday on a 5 1/2 hour one-way schedule at a cost of $99 each direction.

However, though it would use BNSF and Union Pacific Railway tracks that run nearby, there are no plans for the train to stop in Barstow — fact that frustrated local railroad veterans.

“If they would stop at the stations like Barstow, Victorville and San Bernardino. it would help keep it running,” said David Rosse, president of Barstow Unit #098 NARVRE. “It would activate the Depot again if that’s possible.”

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