Senators Brown, Vance introduce Railway Safety Act, garners support from Rail Unions
Lawmakers in Ohio and on Capitol Hill are waging war against the Railroad's cost-cutting industry.
Senators J.D. Vance and Sherrod Brown got the ball rolling on a new piece of legislation aimed at improving rail safety.
The Railway Safety Act of 2023 details a list of improvements and requirements that would be established upon passing--which include safety requirements for trains transporting hazardous materials like notifying state and local responders ahead of time of dangerous materials on board.
It would also require more frequent rail car inspections, a foundation for safer rail cars as well as hazardous materials training for first responders.
Senator JD Vance says this bill could prevent disasters like the one in East Palestine, and others.
"We know this problem was caused by a defective ball bearing on a Norfolk Southern train--what we do is just impose national automated sensors so that you know about it before there is a terrible train crash.", Vance said.
Senator Sherrod Brown says he feels good about the proposal as it's already garnered bipartisan support. He says Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is also on board, but that the true test will be in the house.
"It's going to be more uphill in the house because the republican support we've seen in the senate--we haven't seen that yet in the house.", Brown explained.
Multiple rail unions say despite the skepticism over the results of past legislation, and concerns over the passing of this bill, and what it would look like--they say any safety improvements are a step in the right direction.
"Anything that makes the railroads a safer workplace, not only for our members, or other members throughout other unions--the main thing is to keep these communities safe where these trains travel through.", said Jonathan Long, General Chairman of the American Rail System Administration.
Long says he would also like to see more employees working for the railroad as tracks have not gotten any shorter, but staffing lists have. Given that the derailment in East Palestine has brought the issue of rail safety to the national spotlight...rail unions like Railroad Workers United and others say it's now or never.
"I know that things happen, but there is also steps that you could put into place for more inspections, not only on the train cars, but on the tracks, and to do the things the right way, instead of not taking it seriously and gambling that something doesn't happen down the road.", Long added