Inouye Praises House Passage of Rail Safety and Amtrak Bill, Calls for Immediate Passage in Senate

September 25, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued the following statement upon passage in the House of H.R. 2095, which includes the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 and the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008.

“I fully support passage of H.R. 2095, a bill that will help move America’s railroads into the 21st century.  The reauthorizations of the federal rail safety programs and Amtrak are long overdue and this bill would give direction to Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to help them both better accomplish their missions. Given the higher price of oil, continuing climate change concerns, and our challenging economic times, it is more important than ever that we ensure that our nation’s passenger and freight rail systems are adequately prepared to safely accommodate our transportation needs.

“Safety is a key element if we are to continue to expand our nation’s use of trains. H.R. 2095 will improve railroad safety and provide the resources we need to develop our rail network into the first class system our nation deserves. Key improvements include reforming the hours of service requirements for train and signal workers, requiring risk-based safety programs for large railroad companies, mandating the installation of positive train control systems and other safety technology, and encouraging and funding grade crossing and pedestrian safety and trespasser prevention programs. 

“This bill will also encourage the further development of passenger rail corridors, provide incentives for Amtrak to operate more efficiently, and strengthen the relationship between Amtrak and the states in which it operates.  These improvements will help Amtrak further increase its ridership, which has reached record levels this year and last, and will allow Amtrak to better serve its customers. I believe this bill will further fortify Amtrak as an important, necessary, and viable option in our nation’s transportation landscape.

“I congratulate Senator Lautenberg for crafting his railroad safety and Amtrak bills, working hard to move them through the Senate, and developing this bipartisan compromise with the House. I call on my colleagues in the Senate to pass H.R. 2095 as soon as possible and send it to the President for his signature.”