Thursday, August 30, 2012

Trio of senators seek review of rail system safety

Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), chair of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation; John Rockefeller IV (D-WV), chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and Dick Durbin, (D-IL), have requested a Government Accountability Office (GAO) review of rail safety and how the Federal Railroad Administration, state rail safety agencies and other stakeholders cooperate to ensure the safety of people and goods. This request comes after multiple high-profile rail accidents in recent weeks.

"Our railways strengthen the economy by moving goods and people across the country and we cannot overlook the critical role that safety plays in keeping our rail system moving," said Lautenberg. "The 2008 law that I authored took important steps to address rail safety, but recent accidents have shown the need to continue examining safety and reducing the risk of accidents and fatalities."

"We have the most extensive rail system in the world that is integral to the national economy and mobility of people and freight," said Rockefeller. "By and large the rail system is safe, but recent incidents show that our rail system can still be deadly when things go wrong. We need a thorough review to identify gaps that may exist in our safety programs and policy and to reduce the risk of accidents. In 2008, we worked to ensure rail safety in the Rail Safety Improvement Act and I urge the GAO to evaluate the federal government's ongoing compliance."

"Following a recent derailment and bridge collapse in Northbrook, Illinois and another high profile derailment in Maryland, a full review of the nation's railroads is necessary," Durbin said. "An investigation into how railroads, the Federal Railroad Administration and state and local agencies work together to ensure the safety of rail passengers and freight will help us better oversee rail safety and help identify any gaps in our nation's large and growing rail system."

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