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House committee adds railroad investment reporting requirement to rail safety bill

If a federal rail safety bill is enacted, railroads might have to file an annual report detailing their maintenance and infrastructure plans and investments. Last week, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure adopted language authored by Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.) that proposes to add the reporting requirement to the Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007 (H.R. 2905).

Now, the bill would require railroads to specify track, rolling stock, grade crossing and other infrastructure/maintenance investments made in a previous calendar year and planned investments for the coming year, according to rail shipper coalition Consumers United for Rail Equity (CURE). The reports would be publicly posted.

The reports will provide taxpayers, lawmakers and consumers a “much needed” account of railroads’ annual maintenance and infrastructure investments, according to CURE.

“These filings are very important because there is little transparency today with respect to the operating decisions of American railroads,” said Glenn English, CURE chairman and chief executive officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, in a prepared statement.

Introduced in the House May 1, H.R. 2095 has elicited rail labor union support because the bill proposes to eliminate train crews’ “limbo time,” mandate the creation of fatigue management programs, establish training standards for all rail workers and improve dark territory safety. The full House will consider the legislation — which also would redesignate the Federal Railroad Administration as the Federal Railroad Safety Administration — later this year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/18/2007