Washington, DC: House passes level crossing improvement mechanism

12 Mar

The House of Representatives passed two key provisions authored by Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) as part of the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act (PRRIA) including significant investments in rail crossing improvements and Positive Train Control. Passed by a vote of 316-101, Maloney’s legislation allows states and local governments to make safety improvements and lateral or vertical relocation of rail lines in order to improve the safety of grade crossings for train passengers, motorists and pedestrians.

“These accidents are a wake-up call. While every driver should use caution at rail crossings, there are hundreds of high-hazard, dangerous crossings in New York that need significant improvements, and this investment gives local communities the resources they need to upgrade or relocate crossings,” said Maloney. “The implementation of basic GPS and Wi-Fi technology that can stop or slow trains remotely is long overdue, and by working across the aisle, our commuter and freight trains will soon have access to existing funding to install this critical Positive Train Control technology.”

Notably, PRRIA includes Representative Maloney’s bill, H.R. 705, the Rail Crossings Safety Improvement Act, which reauthorizes the Rail Line Relocation and Improvement Capital Grant Program (RLR). As part of an annual USD300 million reauthorization with the Intercity Passenger Rail Service Program, the RLR program allows state and local communities to invest in local rail line relocation and improvement projects at grade crossings. In the President’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget request, the Department of Transportation listed railroad intersections as one of the “three most pressing rail safety issues.”

In addition, the bipartisan PRRIA bill will help commuter rail lines like Metro-North fund and implement Positive Train Control (PTC) systems. Originally authored following the tragic Metro-North derailment in December 2013 and reintroduced in this Congress, Rep. Maloney’s Commuter Rail Passenger Safety Act would help finance Positive Train Control systems for commuter rail systems. This legislation would make all Positive Train Control installations “priority projects” as part of the USD35 billion Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) Program that currently provides loans and loan guarantees to railroads.

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