Thune Statement on Repeal of Flawed Train Brake Rule

December 4, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued the following statement on the repeal on the Department of Transportation’s 2015 electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brake rule.

“Repealing this rule puts sound science and careful study by the independent National Academies of Sciences and Government Accountability Office over flawed guesswork the department used in 2015. While new technologies offer potential improvement to railroad safety, regulators have a responsibility to fairly evaluate effectiveness and avoid arbitrarily mandating new requirements. I applaud the department’s new leadership for reacting appropriately to the findings of independent experts and fixing a mistake.”

The 2015 ECP brake rule set a timetable for requiring a specific train car braking technology that the department claimed was more effective in emergency situations. A provision in the FAST Act (H.R. 22) required study and testing by the National Academies of Sciences of the department’s 2015 train brake rule and a reevaluation if the results indicated flawed assumptions by regulators. The October 2017 report by the National Academies of Sciences found that the department’s approach in mandating ECP brakes over other technologies was “incomplete and unconvincing.” It also could not conclude that the emergency performance of ECP brakes was superior to other systems. An October 2016 study by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) said that the department’s justification for the rule “lacked transparency.”