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Senator Casey continues to push for passage of the Railway Safety Act

Legislation would take action to prevent future, man-made rail disasters like Norfolk Southern’s 2023 derailment

In July 2023, the Senator urged DOT to advance proposed rule

Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) applauded Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHSMA) final rule to require railroads to proactively provide first responders with real-time, electronic information about rail hazmat shipments involving hazardous materials as soon as the railroad is aware that an accident or incident has occurred. After Senator Casey urged the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to advance the rule to protect first responders, the Biden Administration finalized the rule this week. In the wake of the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) final meeting in East Palestine, OH and the release of part of the agency’s forthcoming report on Norfolk Southern’s disaster, Senator Casey continues to push for the bipartisan Railway Safety Act to prevent future train disasters like the derailment that devastated Darlington Township, PA.

“Norfolk Southern’s information-sharing failure placed Pennsylvania first responders in needless, irresponsible danger. This final rule is an important step to protect our first responders, but we need to pass legislation that protects our communities from train derailments.” said Senator Casey. “I will keep fighting for the Railway Safety Act for as long as it takes so we can ensure that no community suffers through the devastation Darlington experienced.”

The final rule requires all railroads to generate, in hard copy and electronic versions, real-time train consist information for shipments containing hazardous materials as soon as an accident or incident has occurred. Required information includes the quantity and position of the hazardous materials on the train, the train’s origin and destination, emergency response information, and a designated emergency point of contact at the railroad. Since the Norfolk Southern train derailment disaster in February 2023, Senator Casey has consistently fought to support the first responders on the front lines of train derailments. Senator Casey introduced the Assistance for Local Heroes During Train Crises Act to support first responders on the front lines of hazardous train derailments. In July 2023, Casey urged DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg and PHSMA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown to support the rule.

In addition to fighting for the safety of first responders, Senator Casey has repeatedly pushed to for legislation that would prevent man-made disasters like the Norfolk Southern train derailment from happening again. In March 2023, Casey introduced the bipartisan Railway Safety Act. In addition to requiring advanced notification to emergency response officials about hazardous materials being transported, the Railway Safety Act includes several requirements to enhance overall railway safety, support communities impacted by rail disasters, and force rail carriers to face heightened fines for wrongdoing. Casey successfully included key provisions of his Assistance for Local Heroes During Train Crises Act in the Railway Safety Act.

See Senator Casey’s full record on the Norfolk Southern derailment HERE

Read more about the Railway Safety Act HERE