Johnson, Sykes Introduce RAIL Act

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Left to right: Reps. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) and Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Ohio)

Reps. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) and Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Ohio) on March 17 introduced the oddly named RAIL (Reducing Accidents in Locomotives) Act in the House of Representatives. The bill, similar to the Railway Safety Act introduced earlier in March by Senators Sherrod Brown (D- Ohio) and J.D. Vance (R- Ohio), does not contain a provision for legislated crew size requiring a two-person crew aboard every train.

The RAIL Act, Johnson and Sykes claim, “would improve railway safety and operations by:

  • “Directing the Secretary of Transportation to promulgate new rules to improve safety based off the findings of the NTSB Norfolk Southern [East Palestine] investigation in conjunction with the Federal Railroad Administration.
  • “Increasing inspections on all trains, including those carrying hazardous materials.
  • “Requiring railroad corporations to provide notification in advance pertinent to State emergency response commissioners, tribal emergency response commission, or any other State or tribal agency regarding the transportation of hazardous materials.
  • “Strengthening requirements pertaining to safety placards that would have assisted emergency responders in identifying the hazardous materials in the railcars on site.
  • “Strengthening regulations to prevent wheel bearing failures, which caused the East Palestine train derailment.
  • “Increasing maximum penalties for violations of rail safety regulations.
  • “Increasing funding for Hazardous Materials Training for First Responders.
  • “Auditing federal rail inspection programs.

Eleven members of Ohio’s Congressional delegation are co-sponsors of the RAIL Act: Democrats Greg Landsman, Shontel Brown and Joyce Beatty; and Republicans Troy Balderson, Max Miller, Mike Carey, Dave Joyce and Mike Turner.

Editor’s Comment: The rail industry does not need politicians wasting time introducing legislation that essentially duplicates what we are already doing. See AAR Outlines Key Class I Safety Actions, Norfolk Southern Outlines New Six-Point Safety Plan, and At CSX, Safety is ‘Foundation’ of Business. “Reducing Accidents in Locomotives Act”? That literally makes no sense. To what is it referring? A locomotive engineer inadvertently slamming the cab door on a conductor’s hand? Spilling a bottle of Diet Coke on the PTC display? – William C. Vantuono.

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