Senate Passes Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2003

November 25, 2003

Washington, DC – Senator John McCain, Chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today applauded the Senate passage of S. 1402, the Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act. The bill is sponsored by Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Hollings (D-SC) and was introduced on July 14, 2003. This legislation will reauthorize the federal rail safety program, which expired at the end of fiscal year 1998. It will authorize $166 million for rail safety in fiscal year 2004, the amount requested by the Administration, rising to $200 million in fiscal year 2008. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) administers the federal rail safety program. The program encompasses a range of inspection, research, education, and oversight initiatives aimed at preventing injuries and loss of life to railroad employees, Amtrak and commuter rail passengers, and the general public. The bill also will make several improvements to grade crossing safety including the development of a plan for eliminating 10% of all public and private grade crossings over a 10-year period. Additionally it will authorize funds to continue initiatives to test and install positive train control (PTC) systems on passenger and freight railroad rights-of-way. PTC has been on the National Transportation Safety Board’s ‘most wanted’ list since 1990, but is cost-prohibitive for the railroads to install on a widespread basis. “The Federal Railroad Safety Improvement Act renews our commitment to a strong rail safety program and reflects a number of recommendations made by the Administration in its new rail safety proposal. I believe this bill goes a long way in ensuring the safety of our railways and the effectiveness of the federal rail safety program for years to come,” McCain said. ###