U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has called for a three-pronged push to hold the freight rail industry accountable and improve safety. This includes outlining immediate steps that Class I railroads must take to improve rail safety in communities across America and improve working conditions for railroad employees. It comes on the heels of Secretary Buttigieg's letter to the CEO of Norfolk Southern, in which the Secretary called for an end to the rail industry's "vigorous resistance" to increased safety measures, which has included litigation and lobbying Congress.
"Profit and expediency must never outweigh the safety of the American people," said US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. "We at USDOT are doing everything in our power to improve rail safety, and we are insisting that the rail industry do the same - while urging Congress to work with us to raise the bar."
The reforms call on the railroads to take several actions, including requiring tank car owners to accelerate the phase-in of safer (DOT 117) tank cars and provide paid sick leave for rail workers; calling on Congress to increase the maximum fines that USDOT can levy against railroads for safety violations from the current maximum fine of $225,455; and stating that USDOT will advance the train crew size rule and initiate a focused safety inspection program on routes that carry high volumes of hazardous materials.