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Two senators seek appropriation for rail safety grant program


On Monday, Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and John Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) sent a letter to the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee seeking at least $50 million for a new railroad safety technology grant program created by the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (RSIA).

The act includes a provision championed by Boxer that mandates the installation of positive train control (PTC) on track shared by passenger and freight trains. The grant program would provide funding for necessary safety improvements, including PTC installations.

In letter to subcommittee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Ranking Member Christopher Bond (R-Mo.), Boxer and Rockefeller request a minimum of $50 million in funding for the program in fiscal-year 2010.

“RSIA requires that positive train control be implemented on mainlines where intercity passenger rail and commuter-rail trains operate, and over which poison- or toxic-by-inhalation hazardous materials are transported,” they wrote. “We cannot afford to delay the implementation of positive train control and other life-saving safety measures on our nation’s busiest commuter-freight rail corridors.”

In addition, many commuter-rail agencies are facing budget cuts “in these tough economic times,” so funding for the technology grants is “vital to ensure that important safety measures continue to be implemented,” Boxer and Rockefeller wrote.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/24/2009