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U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.) has reintroduced the Rail Audit Transparency Act, a bill that would require the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to notify Congress when a comprehensive safety assessment is being conducted on an intercity passenger- or commuter-rail agency in lawmakers' districts.
The bill calls for members of Congress and relevant congressional committees to be notified within 10 days of an FRA launch of a safety assessment. Once the assessment is completed, the FRA would have 90 days to inform those parties of the assessment's findings, including specific defects and recommendations to address them.
"All members of Congress in the House and Senate deserve to know when and why these safety assessments are taking place in order to best inform our constituents and provide any necessary assistance," Sires said in a press release.
The legislation was prompted in part by a New Jersey Transit accident in 2016 that killed one person and injured 110 passengers and crew members. After the accident, it was revealed that the FRA was in the process of conducting a "deep audit" on NJ Transit due to an increase in safety violations. At the time, the safety review was not know to relevant members of Congress or to the public, according to Sires.