• Bush Signs Rail Safety Bill, Amtrak Funding

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by ecouter
President Bush Oct. 16 signed the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (H.R. 2095/S. 1889), which will tighten rail worker training standards, require conductor certification, affect hours of service and limbo time, and installation of positive train control. The following is an additional summary of the bill reported by Progressive Railroading.

H.R. 2095 also will create a new high-level chief safety officer position within the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), add 200 federal rail safety inspectors and require the USDOT to develop a long-term strategy for improving rail safety, including an annual plan for reducing the number and rates of rail accidents, injuries and fatalities.

In addition, the law reauthorizes the federal rail safety program through 2011 and enables the Federal Railroad Administration to regulate rail workers' hours of service to address fatigue; addresses the need for train crews to have emergency escape breathing apparatus in locomotives when trains carry toxic-by-inhalation hazardous materials; and designates the National Transportation Safety Board as the primary agency for coordinating federal resources to assist families of riders involved in passenger-rail accidents.

Meanwhile, H.R. 2095 companion bill the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 reauthorizes Amtrak for five years at a total of $13 billion. Amtrak's previous authorization expired in 2002. During the next five years, Amtrak will receive $2.9 billion in operating subsidies and $5.3 billion for capital projects, such as new cars and infrastructure upgrades. The national intercity passenger railroad also will receive $1.9 billion to develop new state passenger-rail corridors.