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Fri. Noon: Bipartisan RAIL Act introduced in Congress

Bipartisan legislation intended to improve railway safety and operations was introduced today in Congress.

The bill calls on the Federal Rail Administration and National Transportation Safety Board to help recommend changes to how our nation’s rail system operates, including things like train length, weight to speed and track standards.

The legislation comes on the heels of the Feb. 3 derailment and chemical spill in East Palestine, Columbiana County.

According to a statement released to the media this morning, the bill also would address other issues including things like increasing funding for Hazardous Materials Training for first responders; increasing maximum penalties for violating rail safety regulations; and increasing inspections on all trains. It also calls for audits of federal rail inspection programs.

U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson, a Republican who represents East Palestine and other parts of the Mahoning Valley, and Democratic Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes introduced the bipartisan legislation being called “Reducing Accidents in Locomotives,” or RAIL, Act.

Referring to the Feb. 3 East Palestine train derailment, Johnson this morning called it “imperative” that Congress swiftly strengthens railway safety standards.

“The bipartisan RAIL Act would bring forth effective and responsible changes to the way the rail industry operates to help prevent railway accidents and keep communities across America safe,” Johnson said in a prepared statement.

Ohio, which has one of the country’s largest railroad networks, ranks fourth in the nation for serious train accident accidents and hazardous materials spills. From 2019 through November 2022, 281 train accidents occurred within the state, according to the press release.

The bill is co-sponsored by 11 members of the Ohio delegation, including 6 Republicans and 5 Democrats.

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