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Rail-safety reform bill enters House


Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) May 16 introduced Railroad Safety Reform Act of 2002 (H.R. 4761), which aims to improve rail safety practices to better prevent fatalities, injuries and hazardous-material releases.
The bill would limit hours for train and signal crews, dispatching service employees and power directors; require positive train control on high-priority corridors; establish a toll-free number enabling motorists to report grade-crossing problems; direct Federal Railroad Administration to certify individual safety-related personnel; increase protections for whistleblowers; and impose user fees to cover the government's cost of adding 400 safety inspectors.
When introducing the bill, Oberstar cited a National Transportation Safety Board study showing that train crews work as much as 432 hours a month, compared with 360 hours for truck drivers and 100 hours for airline pilots, according to American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association's (ASLRRA) bi-weekly newsletter.
H.R. 4761, which was referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (where Oberstar is the ranking Democrat), mirrors an unsuccessful bill the congressman introduced in 1999.
Congress hasn't passed a new railroad safety bill in 10 years, ASLRRA said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/21/2002