Mar. 22, 2023
Would enhance oversight and accountability of railroads
AMBRIDGE – In the aftermath of the recent East Palestine train derailment that has impacted Western Pennsylvania residents, Beaver County state Reps. Rob Matzie and Jim Marshall, majority and Republican chairs of the PA House Consumer Protection, Technology, and Utilities Committee, respectively, said they are gathering support for legislation to help prevent a repeat of that disaster.
“Our area is one of the most heavily traveled in the country for rail traffic, which means that safety problems create a very real and immediate threat for residents right in our own backyards,” Matzie said. “As the recent East Palestine derailment made clear, we can’t rely on federal safety standards to protect us.
“We have the power under state law to enhance those standards, and we will soon be introducing legislation to do that. But we can’t afford to wait. With the high volume of trains crossing our region every day, we need better controls in place now, before another potential catastrophe.”
Marshall said, “The consequences of the train derailment in East Palestine have been profound to my constituents, and it is clear to me that we must act now to prevent further incidents. I am appreciative of the opportunity to work together with Chairman Matzie on this important issue.”
Matzie and Marshall said their legislation, which is currently being drafted, would address the standards, oversight and maintenance of wayside detector systems; provide for additional oversight of railroad company safety compliance; provide for a reporting mechanism if railroad companies are deemed out of compliance with federal regulations; establish minimum safe-staffing requirements; create a reporting system for the transportation of hazardous materials and waste; and restrict unsafe train length.
The lawmakers are currently circulating a memorandum to gather co-sponsors for the legislation before it is introduced.