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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator JD Vance (R-OH) repeated his calls for Congress to pass the Railway Safety Act, a commonsense and bipartisan piece of legislation sponsored by Republican Senators Vance, Hawley, and Rubio, and Democratic Senators Brown, Casey, and Fetterman.

“Two big things we have to do better on rail safety: first of all, when you have firefighters going in to fight a toxic fire caused by a train derailment, they’ve got to know what’s on the train,” said Senator Vance. “And that’s number one that our legislation does. The second thing is you’ve got to enhance the safety standards here. What we’ve learned the hard way is that when you have a toxic, a terrible, train crash like what you’ve had in East Palestine, the costs are socialized. A lot of the costs of cleaning this thing up are going to be borne by taxpayers. Well, if taxpayers are going to have to bear the cost. Trains have to crash less frequently, and I think that’s something our legislation helps with.”

Click here or on the image below to watch Senator Vance’s comments: 

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 rail carriers to provide advance notification and information to state emergency response officials about what they are transporting
    • Creating new requirements to prevent blocked railroad crossings
    • Mitigating derailment risk with rules for train size and weight
  • Reduce the risk of wheel bearing failures by:
    • Establishing requirements for wayside defect detectors
    • Requiring trains carrying hazardous materials to be scanned by hotbox detectors every 10 miles
    • Strengthening inspection requirements for rail cars of trains carrying hazardous materials
  • Require well-trained, two-person crews aboard every train
  • 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
  • Invest in future safety improvements by:
    • Providing $22,000,000 to the Federal Railroad Administration for research and development grants regarding wayside defect detectors and other rail priorities
    • Providing $5,000,000 to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for expenses related to developing stronger tank car safety features

The text of the bill can be read here.