U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) introduced two pieces of legislation he says would improve rail safety.
The first, titled the Railway Inspection and Transparency Act, sets out to improve rail safety by requiring independent inspections by certified engineers on all railway bridges, signals and switches on a regular basis. In addition to the railroad industries requirement to implement positive train control by 2015, Rep. Andrews believes these measures will increase safety through cost effective safety regulations.
The second piece of legislation, called the Emergency Response and Transparency Act, is designed to establish a clear chain of command when times of crisis occur. The bill establishes a federal incident commander to ensure county, state and local responders are consulted. Rep. Andrews says by clarifying the lead role following a major emergency incident, the public will be more informed about the safety and severity of the situation.
“The one industry in our country that is self-regulated is the freight rail industry. This needs to stop and we can work together to ensure that common sense safety precautions are required of the railroad industry,” said Rep. Andrews. “While we hope these measures will prevent future derailments, when accidents do occur you need a clear chain of command because when everyone’s in charge no one’s in charge. This legislation will clear the confusion so our first responders can do their job more efficiently.”
The two bills are the result of Rep. Andres meeting with community leaders, first responders and the National Transportation Safety Board following a derailment last year in Paulsboro, N.J. Derailed tanker cars spilled vinyl chloride into the atmosphere and caused the evacuation of 1,500 people from their homes.