Finch, Tetreau and Himes call for more rail safety

On the one-year anniversary of train crash Congressman Jim Himes, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Fairfield First Selectman Mike Tetreau are calling for rail safety improvements.

On May 17, 2013, on the city line of Bridgeport and Fairfield, a train derailment injured more than 70 people. This  incident forever changed the lives of many residents and commuters and further exposed issues with the Metro-North line, according to a release from the politicians.

At the federal level, Himes, who represents Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District (which includes Bridgeport and Fairfield) introduced the Rail Safety Enforcement Act in concert with congresswomen Rosa DeLauro and Elizabeth Esty. The Rail Safety Enforcement Act is a comprehensive piece of legislation intended to enhance rail safety.

“One year ago, a derailment due to unstable rails and loose embankments caused two trains full of rush-hour commuters to collide, tearing cars open, injuring dozens, and interrupting commutes for days after,” said Himes. “Metro-North now has new leadership and a plan to improve, but I will continue to be vigilant as these plans are put into effect. Metro-North must return to more reliable service and put better safety mechanisms in place, and I was proud to sponsor legislation to make sure one of our nation’s busiest railways works better for the people it serves.”

Points in the act

In order to bolster rail safety, the Rail Safety Enforcement Act calls for five major fixes:

• Making certain that every rail carrier control cab has an “alerter,” which is an automatic failsafe device that sounds an alarm when a train engineer seems idle while the train is in motion.

• Ensuring that every rail carrier develops a fatigue risk plan within 60 days and submit it to the Secretary of Transportation.

• Making certain that every carrier reports on their progress in implementing the Positive Train Control System within 180 days of enactment require.

• Requiring the Secretary of Transportation to issue regulations mandating “shunting,” or redundant signal protection for workers on the track.

• Mandating that railroad employees are provided with predictable and defined work and rest schedules.

 Finch and Tetreau respond

“My heart goes out to those who were injured, and their families, as a result of this horrific collision,” said Finch. “But this incident should have never happened. And, I strongly urge legislative leaders in our nation’s capitol to back Congressman Himes, Congresswoman Esty, and Congresswoman DeLauro in moving forward with this legislation. It will help crack down on people having to endure unnecessary wrecks like this in the future.”

Fairfield First Selectman Mike Tetreau, who was also on the scene shortly after the collision occurred, also called for additional investments in rail safety.

“This tragedy shocked the entire community. We had always believed that train service was safe and secure. We know that a better job of planning and investing in rail safety is needed for the future.”

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