N.J. Congressman Introduces Safety Measures

A Congressman from New Jersey has proposed federal legislation he says will improve railroad safety and responders’ ability to communicate in the event of an accident.

U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J., introduced the Railway Inspection and Transparency Act and the Emergency Response and Transparency Act last week.

The Railway Inspection and Transparency Act requires regular independent inspections by certified engineers of all railway bridges, signals and switches. In addition to the railroad industries requirement to implement a new state of the art navigational system by 2015, the Congressman’s measures will increase safety through through sensible and cost effective safety regulations.

Meanwhile, the Emergency Response and Transparency Act is designed to establish a clear chain of command during a train wreck to ensure the public is more informed about the safety and severity of any crash. The bill, if approved and signed into law, would establish a Federal Incident Commander to ensure county, state and local responders are consulted.

“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,” Andrews said in a statement. “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.”

Andrews introduced the legislation in the wake of a Nov. 20, 2012, train derailment in Paulsboro, N.J. In the wreck, more than 1,500 people were evacuated from their homes.