Today, Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) responded to recent major rail accidents by introducing bipartisan legislation with Congressman Paul Mitchell (MI-10) to keep New Jersey and America’s rails safe. The legislation leverages big data to enhance accountability, transparency, and safety for the thousands of New Jersey individuals, families, and businesses that rely on our nation’s railways every day.
Recent accidents show improving train safety is more critical now than ever. In the last two months, the nation has seen three fatal crashes involving Amtrak trains. This Sunday, an Amtrak passenger train en route from New York to Miami slammed into a freight train parked on a side track in South Carolina, killing two and injuring more than 110 people. Last Wednesday, an Amtrak train carrying Members of Congress killed one as it hit a garbage truck on its way to the Republican retreat in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
The FRA Safety Data Improvement Act codifies safety accountability requirements to prevent shifting in standards from one administration to the next. It requires a plan and the implementation of recommendations found in a report from the Department of Transportation’s Inspector General. The bipartisan legislation improves and standardizes reporting and training around railway accidents on railroads like Amtrak and NJ Transit, including those that would have benefited from Positive Train Control (PTC) b To ensure compliance, the Act also requires the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to update the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee annually on its progress.
“In New Jersey, our rails and tunnels are literally crumbling. Bergen County is the worst in the northeast for railway crossing crashes. With fatal Amtrak and NJ Transit crashes in Hoboken, South Carolina, and West Virginia, we can’t afford to sit idly by. When it comes to rail safety, Congress has sat on the rails, watching the runaway trains approach at record speeds. It’s time we got moving,” said Congressman Gottheimer.
“As recent incidents have shown, rail safety is a vitally important issue,” said Congressman Mitchell. “When accidents and problems occur, there must be a standardized way information can be reported to regulators and policy makers to ensure they can act on it. I’m pleased to introduce this bill with Congressman Gottheimer to make FRA’s data system more streamlined and effective.”
To view the full text of the bill, click HERE.