(The Center Square) – Federal bipartisan legislation introduced by both Ohio senators that would apply more regulation to the nation’s rail industry continues to pick up support.
Sens. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, introduced the Railway Safety Act of 2023 in early March, less than a month after a Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio left the community struggling to deal with a toxic chemical release.
The proposed legislation, scheduled for committee markup Wednesday, recently received support from Republican Sens. Mike Braun, Roger Marshall and Mitt Romney. On Tuesday, former President Donald Trump also voiced his support on Truth Social.
“I’m thankful to have the backing of Senators Braun, Marshall, and Romney for this common sense piece of legislation,” Vance said. “Their support for this bill demonstrates the widespread, bipartisan consensus building for improvements to railway safety standards across the nation.”
As previously reported by The Center Square, the legislation proposed by three Democrats and three Republicans addresses instruments that monitor high temperatures and help prevent wheel bearing failures, which the National Transportation Safety Board said caused the Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern derailment.
It focuses on five areas, including stronger safety procedures and notifications for trains carrying hazardous materials, wheel bearing failure, crews, future improvements and support for communities impacted by rail disasters.
“What happened in East Palestine, Ohio highlighted the critical need to modernize our railway safety regulations to prevent a tragedy of this magnitude from ever happening again,” Marshall said. “Congress must ensure that the railroad industry keeps Americans’ safety top of mind.”
The bill would require two-person crews aboard every train and increase fines the U.S. Department of Transportation can impose for safety violations. Similar requirements passed the Ohio House recently as part of the state’s General Fund budget, which continues to be debated in the Senate.
“People living in communities all across the country deserve to know that materials transported by rail are moving across the system safely,” Romney said. “Recent incidents have demonstrated a need for improvements in the way we transport hazardous materials.”
— J.D. Davidson