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House approves rail safety bill with Amtrak reauthorization amendment


Yesterday, the House passed an amended version of The Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act of 2007, which now, as the Railroad Safety Enhancement Act of 2008 (H.R. 2095), includes an Amtrak reauthorization component.

The House passed the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (H.R. 6003) in June. The legislation would reauthorize Amtrak for five years and provide more than $500 million annually for a state intercity passenger-rail grant program. The bill also would enable private operators to launch passenger-rail service pilot programs on freight-owned tracks in Amtrak's worst-performing corridors, and require the federal government to work with states and railroads to plan rail infrastructure projects.

In addition, H.R. 6003 calls for developing high-speed rail service between Washington, D.C., and New York City that would complete the trip in under two hours. The bill would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to solicit proposals for engineering, finance and development plans for the system; create a commission comprising state, local, federal, rail and rail labor stakeholders to evaluate the proposals; and report recommendations to Congress.

Now, that legislation is grouped in with the rail safety bill, which proposes to limit hours of service, reduce workers' limbo time, tighten training standards, require conductor certification, and mandate installation of positive train control on lines used for passenger trains and to move hazardous materials no later than 2015.

The amended bill has been passed to the Senate for consideration.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/25/2008