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Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on Friday announced the creation of a Railroad Safety and Security Task Force that includes state agency officials and subject matter experts.Task force members will be responsible for making recommendations and taking actions to enhance Virginia’s capability to protect lives, property and the environment along rail lines, said McAuliffe in a press release.The formation of the task force follows a CSX Transportation derailment that occurred April 30 in downtown Lynchburg adjacent to the James River. The train was carrying crude oil shipped from the Midwest to Yorktown."The train derailment … raises important public safety and health concerns,” said McAuliffe. "While fortunately no one was hurt, it is critical that we determine the cause of this accident to help better protect Virginia's families. The Railroad Safety and Security Task Force will help ensure that the commonwealth is a national leader in preventing, preparing for and responding to these types of events." McAuliffe also last week sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx emphasizing his support to strengthen federal rules regarding the safety of rail cars carrying crude oil, as well as improved communication between railroads, first responders and community officials.CSX officials lauded the governor's efforts to enhance collaboration to improve rail safety in Virginia."[We] appreciate Gov. McAuliffe's leadership in this area and his focus on shared dialogue with respect to the safety and security of rail shipments, which is our priority," said Bryan Rhode, CSX's regional vice president of state government affairs, in a prepared statement. "We look forward to participating in the task force as part of our ongoing collaboration with federal, state and local agencies." CSX currently is engaged in a number of new safety-enhancement efforts, including a recent compact between the Association of American Railroads and U.S. Department of Transportation that calls for slowing train speeds through certain urban areas, increasing track inspections and enhancing efforts to promote strong, long-term coordination with state, local and emergency response officials across the network, he said.
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