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"The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation recently advanced the bipartisan Railway Safety Act of 2023.
The legislation reforms the Department of Transportationís (DOT) Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness programs to ensure fire departments can purchase personal protective gear, creates a new program to reimburse fire departments after responding to a derailment, mandates that railroads use defect detectors, increases the maximum statutory civil penalty from $100,000 to $10 million for violating of rail safety law, creates a statutory requirement that all trains operated by Class I railroads are operated with two crewmembers, and requires that railroads notify states about the types and frequency of trains carrying hazmat transported through the state boundaries.
The bill prohibits railroads from imposing time requirements on inspectors and requires DOT to ensure railroads use trained mechanics to conduct these inspections. The bill mandates a new requirement that all railcars have a thorough inspection at least once every five years to ensure all its components are in working order.
The legislation was written in response to a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), John Fetterman (D-PA), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and J.D. Vance (R-OH) introduced the bill."