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Tuesday, July 23, 2013    

Sen. Schumer urges federal agencies to investigate heat's role in New York-area derailments

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) yesterday urged the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), Transportation Research Board (TRB) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to investigate recent heat-related incidents on the region's rail systems, including Amtrak, MTA Metro-North Railroad, MTA Long Island Rail Road and MTA New York City Transit.

"This month alone, New York and New Jersey have experienced at least three heat-related train issues and with commuters paying so much in transit costs, these delays and derailments need to be avoided as much as possible," Schumer said in a prepared statement. "The feds have the resources and expertise to look at these incidents, and others, together and to make specific recommendations so that the system is better protected."

Schumer wants the NTSB — which currently is investigating Metro-North derailments that occurred July 19 and in May — to explore the role heat played in the accidents.

Meanwhile, the senator wants the TRB to conduct an investigation and analysis of the scope of the problem, and to issue "comprehensive recommendations" on how to solve it, Schumer said. He'd like the recommendations to be completed by the time Congress considers next year's transportation reauthorization bill, so that potential legislative changes and funding can be provided to implement them. Schumer also is requesting that the TRB and NTSB examine the impacts of "the changing climate" on railroad infrastructure, particularly "vulnerable electric wires, transformers and tracks."

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