WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Mike Braun (R-IN) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) have placed their support behind bipartisan railway safety legislation led by Senator JD Vance (R-OH). Senators Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) are original cosponsors. The Railway Safety Act is scheduled for a committee markup this Wednesday, May 10.
“People living in communities all across the country deserve to know that materials transported by rail are moving across the system safely. Recent incidents have demonstrated a need for improvements in the way we transport hazardous materials,” said Senator Romney. “I am glad to join my colleagues in supporting the Railway Safety Act to prevent future derailments and better protect American communities and workers when they do happen.”
“I’m thankful to have the backing of Senators Braun, Marshall, and Romney for this commonsense piece of legislation,” said Senator Vance. “Their support for this bill demonstrates the widespread, bipartisan consensus building for improvements to railway safety standards across the nation.”
“We need to take action to prevent train disasters like what happened in East Palestine, and this bill will add new safety measures to prevent wheel-bearing failure like new requirements for wayside defect detectors and scanning by hotbox detectors, as well as increase safety for communities by notifying local fire departments that hazardous materials are moving through their area and creating new HAZMAT training grants for first responders,” said Senator Braun.
“What happened in East Palestine, Ohio highlighted the critical need to modernize our railway safety regulations to prevent a tragedy of this magnitude from ever happening again,” said Senator Marshall. “I am proud to support this legislation that takes important steps to improve rail safety protocols. Congress must ensure that the railroad industry keeps Americans’ safety top of mind.”
The Railway Safety Act of 2023 Would:
- Enhance safety procedures for trains carrying hazardous materials by:
- Including new safety requirements and procedures for trains carrying hazardous materials like vinyl chloride.
- Requiring Class I railroads to provide advance notification and information to state emergency response officials about what they are transporting.
- Commissioning a study by the Federal Railroad Administration to recommend solutions for blocked railway crossings and hazards posed by extremely long trains.
- Requiring older tank cars to be phased out no later than 2027.
- Reduce the risk of wheel bearing failures by:
- Requiring the Federal Railroad Administration to oversee improvements by Class I railroads in the nationwide network of wayside defect detectors.
- Prohibiting maximum inspection times to ensure qualified inspectors have sufficient time to review trains before they leave railyards.
- Require well-trained, two-person crews aboard all Class I Railroads
- Force rail carriers to face heightened fines for wrongdoing by:
- Substantially increasing the maximum fines USDOT can issue for safety violations.
- Support communities impacted by rail disasters by:
- Expanding HAZMAT training grants for local law enforcement and first responders through increased registration fees paid by Class I railroads.