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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Schumer to FRA: Hire more rail-bridge safety specialists


U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday called for a nationwide increase in the number of federal railroad bridge safety specialists.

In a recent letter to the Federal Railroad Administration's Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg, Schumer noted that nationwide only seven specialists currently are tasked with overseeing audits of rail bridges for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). That means only 1 percent of the 70,000 to 100,000 privately owned rail bridges in the nation are audited in a given year.

At a time when railroads are transporting increasing numbers of carloads carrying hazardous material and crude oil, rail-bridge safety is a national transportation priority, the senator said in a press release. As a result, he called on Feinberg to prioritize in the agency's fiscal-year 2016 budget the need to hire more rail-bridge inspectors.

"It's truly alarming that only one person is responsible for auditing 3,000 privately-owned rail bridges in New York – on top of being responsible for all of the rail bridges in 13 other states. It does not take a rail safety expert to know the math doesn’t add up," said Schumer in a prepared statement.

"We have all seen the result of oil train derailments in Lynchburg, Lac-Megantic, and West Virginia – we don't want to repeat that nightmare scenario in Upstate New York because of a faulty rail bridge that was simply overlooked in the inspection process," he added.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/10/2015