Congress Addresses Freight Safety Proposals

Congress Addresses Freight Security Proposals


Sen. Maria Cantwell at a previous listening to. (Al Drago/Bloomberg Information)

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In reviewing the connectivity of the nation’s provide chain, the chief of the freight coverage committee within the Senate known as for modernizing transportation techniques to enhance security.

At a listening to March 22, Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) known as on colleagues to help proposals designed to improve instruments and applied sciences important to freight corridors.

“We have to put money into the modernization of kit that may present the security we’d like,” Cantwell stated as her committee examined the aftermath of a Norfolk Southern prepare derailment Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio.

“I consider that our committee can work in a bipartisan trend to enhance rail security. Nevertheless it shouldn’t go unnoticed that the identical points are plaguing us in different areas of transportation,” the chairwoman additional emphasised. “If you wish to have the most secure system, you must have essentially the most modernized gear, essentially the most minimal of workforce requirements and you must proceed to enhance security.”

Cantwell additionally pointed to bipartisan laws launched by members of Ohio’s delegation within the Senate that seeks to forestall prepare derailments by way of the adoption of latest security requirements. The Railway Security Act of 2023 particularly proposes sure necessities and directives for trains transporting hazardous supplies. A vote on the laws within the chamber has not been scheduled.

“Earlier this month, Norfolk Southern issued a six-point plan of modest security enhancements. We don’t want a voluntary plan. We’d like actual security guidelines. We’d like the Railway Security Act. Our invoice is a common sense, bipartisan plan,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the invoice’s co-sponsor, instructed the Commerce panel.

“That is an business that was created by land grants and subsidies from the federal authorities within the first place, and enjoys a bunch of particular privileges presently, not least of which was the latest congressionally mandated termination of a railroad strike,” Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio.) added throughout testimony earlier than the panel.

He joined Brown in co-sponsoring the great laws.

“Enacting modest advances in security regulation after a catastrophe of the magnitude of East Palestine will steer federal coverage away from the present established order,” Vance stated, “which concentrates reward within the palms of the railroads whereas socializing the danger of their cargoes and practices on to everybody else.”

Commerce Committee rating member Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) expressed curiosity in a complete invoice that might take goal at freight rail operations.

“I applaud [Vance] and I applaud Sen. Brown for specializing in their constituents, and I look ahead to persevering with to work carefully with each you and with the chairwoman on a bipartisan, critical rail security bundle,” the Texas Republican affirmed.

The Ohio senators have the backing of President Joe Biden, who pressed the chamber to advance their measure.

“This invoice will make necessary progress,” Biden stated March 2. “And we have to do much more, like require state-of-the artwork braking techniques, present extra funding for federal security inspections, put money into employee security, fortify state emergency administration and response, and maintain firms like Norfolk Southern accountable not only for the fast injury, but additionally the long-term well being and financial injury to communities like East Palestine.”

Affiliation of American Railroads CEO Ian Jefferies, showing earlier than the Commerce Committee, supplied perspective from an business he stated is devoted to the protected transport of freight.

“It’s unlucky that, within the aftermath of the accident in East Palestine, some policymakers, pundits and others have asserted that railroads broadly oppose elevated security laws. That is categorically false,” he stated. “Railroads have constantly advocated, and proceed to advocate, for data-driven options that might successfully improve the security of the rail community.”

On the Home facet, Ohio Reps. Invoice Johnson (R) and Emilia Sykes (D) launched the Decreasing Accidents in Locomotives (RAIL) Act, in response to the derailment of their dwelling state. The measure would, amongst different issues, direct the Federal Railroad Administration to think about updates to coach size and monitor requirements.

“The East Palestine prepare derailment has upended the lives of these residing in East Palestine and the encompassing area. It’s crucial that Congress swiftly works to strengthen our nation’s railway security requirements,” Johnson stated in a press release accompanying the invoice’s introduction March 17. It awaits consideration.

“Public security transcends politics and district boundaries,” Sykes added, “which is why I’m proud to work with Rep. Johnson on bipartisan, common sense laws to forestall future prepare derailment disasters like now we have seen in East Palestine and throughout the USA.”

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