Washington (May 10, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, today released the following statement following the Committee’s passage of the Railway Safety Act:
“Years of rail deregulation, workforce cuts, and prioritizing profits over safety were a recipe for disaster in East Palestine. Today, the Senate Commerce Committee took an important step to help prevent these mistakes in the future by advancing the Railway Safety Act in a bipartisan vote. This legislation makes meaningful improvements to train safety in our country, and I am especially proud that it includes a version of my bill, the Safe Freight Act, to require two-person crews on major freight trains. Although today’s vote helps to hold railroad barons accountable for their corporate profiteering, Congress must demand more for the residents of East Palestine to make them whole, strengthen environmental regulations, and ensure a sustainable rail workforce. I applaud Senator Brown, Senator Vance, and Chair Cantwell for their hard work on this bill, and I look forward to working with them to enact this critical legislation into law.”
In 2019, following the Trump-era Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) rollback of a proposed rule that would have raised train safety standards, Senator Markey introduced the Safe Freight Act to mandate at least two-person crews on all freight trains in the United States, including at least one certified conductor and one certified engineer on board. Senator Markey later worked to secure major rail safety provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, including language from his Warren Cowles Grade Crossing Safety Act to provide $3 billion in federal funding for the Railroad Crossing Elimination Program to invest in needed improvements to dangerous highway-rail crossings, and language mirroring his prior call for the FRA to provide public notice and an opportunity to comment before waiving or suspending track safety standards.