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U.S. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are urging U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to help increase safety resources for short lines.Murray, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Transportation, and Collins, the subcommittee's ranking member, recently sent a letter to Foxx seeking his support for the creation of a Short Line Railroad Safety Institute. Short lines operate one-third of the nation’s rail network, but lack the funding and support that Class Is receive, the senators wrote in the letter. The institute would help enhance short-line safety, including the transportation of crude oil and ethanol."There is no silver bullet to improving rail safety. It is a complicated multi-faceted issue involving prevention, mitigation and response aspects," the senators wrote. "The proposed Short Line Railroad Safety Institute could be an important part of the larger solution and would help improve the safe transportation of crude oil and other hazardous materials." The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) already has discussed the proposed institute with the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, and the FRA has indicated its support for further developing the proposal, Murray and Collins said."This is definitely a step in the right direction and we would like to commend the FRA for acknowledging the unique challenges that confront short lines across the nation," they said.The letter follows a hearing the senators held in April that focused on safety issues related to transporting crude via rail.
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