Congressman Sires Introduces Rail Audit Transparency Act
(Washington, D.C.) – Last night, Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ) reintroduced legislation to compel federal agencies to inform Members of Congress when a railroad or rail transit agency in their district is being investigated for safety violations.
The bill, H.R. 158, the Rail Audit Transparency Act, requires the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to provide Congress with notice of when a comprehensive safety assessment is being conducted on an intercity or commuter rail transit agency that serves their district. This notice must come within 10 days of the FRA initiating a safety assessment and it must be sent to Members of Congress, Senators, and the relevant congressional committees. Once the safety assessment is completed, the FRA has 90 days to inform those parties of the assessment’s findings, including specific defects and any recommendations to address them.
“I am pleased to reintroduce this bill that will ensure our constituents are aware of when the rail services they rely on are under investigation for safety reasons,” said Rep. Sires. “All Members of Congress in the House and Senate deserve to know when and why these safety assessments are taking place in order to best inform our constituents and provide any necessary assistance.”
After the tragic NJ Transit accident in 2016 that killed a young mother and injured 110 passengers and crewmembers, it was revealed to the public that the FRA had been in the process of conducting a “deep audit” on NJ Transit prompted by an increase in safety violations. At the time, this safety review was not known to relevant Members of Congress or to the public who relied on these rail services.
Four years after this tragedy, NJ Transit has met its mandated deadline to implement Positive Train Control (PTC) technology. PTC is an automatic speed control system that has been around for decades and is instrumental to preventing tragedies. The FRA’s certification of NJ Transit’s PTC system will ensure the safety of the hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans who rely on NJ Transit’s rail services to get to and from work every day.
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