Larsen Statement on Protecting the Nation’s Railways

Feb 15, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C.— In today’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Material hearing, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) joined his colleagues to advocate for legislation protecting the nation’s railways. Last December, the Amtrak Cascades 501 train was on its inaugural trip from Seattle to Portland when it derailed near DuPont Washington, killing three and injuring 62 passengers and crewmembers.

“Far too often high-speed derailments, collisions and other hazardous rail incursions are deemed preventable. Communications and signaling safety mechanisms, like positive train control (PTC) could save lives in derailments like the Amtrak Cascades 501 in my home state of Washington, to the more recent incidents in South Carolina and Virginia.

“Earlier this year, my colleagues and I introduced the Positive Train Control Implementation and Financing Act. This bill encourages higher rail safety standards and provides the necessary federal resources to help railroad companies implement these life-saving communications and signaling safety mechanisms by the end of 2018,” said Larsen.

This legislation will provide $2.5 billion in grants to commuter and intercity passenger railroads for PTC implementation and prohibits railroads from beginning new service on routes unless this technology is fully operational.

During the hearing, Larsen called on the National Transportation Safety Board to provide an update on the investigation of Amtrak Cascades 501. He also asked Amtrak for an update on how the proposed budget could impact its safety strategy.