The United States Senate will introduce the Railway Safety Act of 2023, a bill co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and JD Vance, that aims to increase railroad safety regulations and financial consequences.
The bill was prompted by the fiery derailment of a Norfolk Southern freight train in East Palestine, Ohio, that derailed 38 cars and burned. No injuries were reported, but the entire village and nearby neighborhoods were imperiled, and about half of the town’s 4,000 residents were evacuated.
The bill’s provisions include new requirements for emergency response plans, advance notification to emergency response commissions in every state, and the creation of a two-person minimum train crew. The U.S. Department of Transportation would be required to revisit rules on train size and weight, while long-haul railroads will pay for hazardous-materials training for local first responders.
The bill would also raise the maximum fine that the U.S. Department of Transportation can impose for safety violations from $225,000 to up to 1% of a railroad’s annual operating income, which could run into the tens of millions of dollars. The Railway Safety Act of 2023 will make railroads and the towns along them safer and prevent future tragedies, according to Sherrod Brown.