Union members push for railroad safety laws almost one year since derailment
The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen union members want lawmakers to get the ball rolling on railway safety.
”Here we are a year later, nothings changed,” Chris Hand, the director of research for the union said.
In March of 2023, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and JD Vance introduced the Railway Safety Act of 2023. They said it would enhance safety procedures for trains carrying hazardous materials, make requirements for wayside defect detectors, mandate at least two-person crews, increase fines for wrongdoing and much more.
However, since the bill has been introduced, there hasn’t been a lot of movement. Now, as we get closer to the one year mark, the union members are using the anniversary as a reminder for lawmakers.
“It's a safety bill,” Hand said. "I don't know why we can't pass something that's on safety."
Hand said some railroad companies made promises like joining the confidential close call reporting system and installing more hot box detectors after the derailment- but they haven’t all done that.
“Not much has changed for us because the defect detectors are still unregulated so railroads still have their discretion on what they do,” Hand said.
The union feels the bill is still idle because other politicians changed it too much. They are urging the senators to get back to the original bill and put laws in place to make changes to the railroad systems.
“We’re getting away from rail safety, we're going to add these other things in here and it completely watered down the work of Vance and Brown,” Hand said. “Railroads claim that safety is number one, we're just not seeing it.”