Maloney Introduces Rail Safety Legislation to Prevent Grade Crossing Accidents
Washington – Following yesterday’s horrific Metro-North accident, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) introduced the Rail Crossings Safety Improvement Act, to help improve safety at grade crossings. H.R. 705 will reauthorize the Rail Line Relocation & Improvement Capital Grant Program (RLR) at $100 million a year for the next four years.
“This horrific accident hits close to home for me and my neighbors, so we must get answers for the families and communities whose lives have been upended by yet another tragedy,” said Maloney. “Safety is our first priority and unfortunately incidents at rail crossings are all too common in New York; that is why it is crucial that we invest in positive train control and improve safety at grade crossings immediately.”
In New York, there are currently 5,304 grade crossings, and from 2012-2014, there were 81 accidents, 15 deaths and 23 injuries at grade crossings according to the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety. In the past, the RLR program allowed states and local governments to make lateral and vertical relocation of rail lines in order to improve the safety of grade crossings for train passengers, motorists and pedestrians. Authorization for this program expired in 2009, but even when authorized the program was minimally funded at $20 million to $35 million dollars.
“Installing positive train control systems on commuter rail systems like Metro-North is the single most important step to reduce human error and save lives. Although positive train control is designed to prevent train to train collisions, installing this critical technology would also allow us to detect grade crossing malfunctions or objects on the tracks,” said Maloney.
In addition, Maloney called for Congress to pass his legislation, the Commuter Rail Passenger Safety Act, which would allow commuter and freight rail systems to apply for loans and loan guarantees to invest in positive train control systems for existing lines through the Federal Railroad Administration’s Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) Program. This existing program provides access to a $35 billion loan fund to finance the development of critical railroad infrastructure. Last September, Maloney’s bipartisan legislation passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee as part of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act (PRRIA).
Rep. Maloney, who represents parts of Westchester, serves as a Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.