Congress is working on the Railway Safety Act of 2023, a piece of legislation that aims to improve rail safety across the U.S. This, following two deadly train derailments in Missouri recently – one outside of Madison in spring and one in Mendon last year.

Brittney Kohler with the National League of Cities spoke with Missourinet, explaining that the purpose of this bill is to make every train stay on its tracks.

“Looking into the technology those hot boxes that are meant to catch fires and hot wheel bearings before it becomes an emergency situation and causes a derailment,” she said. “So, looking at how we’re going to improve on those. Making sure that there are two main crews on these trains so that when an accident happens, there’s more than one person that’s there to start assisting with firefighters.”

The legislation would increase the maximum fine for violating rail safety laws from $100,000 to $10 million.

Kohler wants Congress to get this legislation passed now.

“NTSB reports can take up to two years, sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on what’s involved, but we fully believe that there’s room to act on what we know today, which the railroads have acknowledged are all problems, such as the communication between first responders and their train units,” said Kohler. “How do we improve that?”

Another key provision in the legislation includes stricter safety requirements such as for hazardous materials and flammable liquids.

“Congress has a tendency to wait until there’s an emergency and I think, in this case, we’ve seen the emergency and it’s time to act,” according to Kohler. “What further changes do we need to make?”

Click here for more information on the Railway Safety Act.

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