Federal agencies Rail

Senate hearing addresses progress of freight, passenger rail safety

Washington – Federal officials attended a March 6 Senate subcommittee hearing to discuss the progress of various rail safety efforts.

Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration head Cynthia L. Quarterman said during the hearing that PHMSA received “extensive public comments” on an advance notice of proposed rulemaking intended to improve standards for rail tank cars that transport highly flammable crude oil, adding that the agency will need time to analyze them.

Also at the hearing was Federal Railroad Administration head Joseph C. Szabo, who said the agency’s investigation of the safety of the Metro-North railroad following a deadly Dec. 1 derailment was completed Feb. 14 and a report on its findings will be released in March.

Geoffrey C. Blackwell, chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy provided an update on the regulatory process for approving the installation of key components of positive train control – an emergency braking system – on historic and other federally protected land. He said FCC is facilitating the rail industry to meet a 2015 deadline for installing PTC.