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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Rep. Andrews introduces two bills targeting freight-rail safety


Last week, U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-N.J.) introduced the Railway Inspection and Transparency Act and the Emergency Response and Transparency Act, both of which seek to improve freight-rail safety.

The Railway Inspection and Transparency Act would require regular independent inspections by certified engineers on all railway bridges, signals and switches, while the Emergency Response and Transparency Act would establish a Federal Incident Commander to ensure county, state and local responders are consulted after a train accident occurs. The bill would foster a clear chain of command by clarifying the lead role following a major emergency, and help keep the public more informed about the safety and severity of the situation, said Andrews in a press release.

"The one industry in our country that is self-regulated is the freight-rail industry. This needs to stop and we can work together to ensure that common sense safety precautions are required of the railroad industry," he said. "While we hope these measures will prevent future derailments, when accidents do occur you need a clear chain of command because when everyone's in charge, no one's in charge. This legislation will clear the confusion so our first responders can do their job more efficiently."

Andrews introduced the bills in response to a freight train derailment that occurred in Paulsboro, N.J., a year ago. Several tank cars crashed into a stream and spilled vinyl chloride, prompting more than 1,500 people to evacuate their homes, he said.

After the derailment, Andrews met with community leaders, first responders and National Transportation Safety Board officials to review the lessons learned from the accident.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/2/2013