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Reps. Lipinski and Quigley Lead Effort to Improve Rail Safety (March 19, 2015)

Representatives Dan Lipinski (IL-3) and Mike Quigley (IL-5) have introduced the Reassuring Adequate Investment in Lifesaving Systems (RAILS) Act, which reauthorizes the Rail Safety Technology Grant program to improve the safety of our nation’s railroads.  Joined in support by Representatives Bobby Rush (IL-1), Danny Davis (IL-7), Luis Gutierrez (IL-4), Tammy Duckworth (IL-8), and Robin Kelly (IL-2), the bill provides $200 million for each of the next five years for positive train control safety technologies, rail integrity inspection systems, a system for electronic communication regarding hazardous material rail shipments, and other new rail safety items.

“Representing a district that includes four commuter rail lines, Amtrak, and six of the country's seven Class I freight railroads, I understand how important rail safety is,” said Rep. Lipinski.  “This bill dedicates funding and resources to benefit the safety of millions of Americans as a key part of the Chicagoland economy moves to modernize its safety systems to comply with the positive train control requirement.” 

“As the nation’s rail hub, nowhere are investments in safety technology more crucial than in Chicago. Yet, commuter railroads like Metra lack the funding necessary to ensure new safety technologies, like positive train control, are implemented the right way,” said Rep. Quigley.  “Reauthorizing the Rail Safety Technology Grant program will provide the critical funding and support needed for commuter railroads around the country to modernize their infrastructure and keep their passengers safe.”

Congressman Lipinski helped create the grant program in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 to help freight railroads and rail commuter agencies install positive train control through the end of 2015.  He and Congressman Quigley helped provide $60 million in the final year of this program.  This new bill reauthorizes the program to help various entities get much-needed money to continue this safety improvement and it authorizes additional uses, like spectrum acquisition, which is needed for the technology, and interoperability testing, which helps trains use tracks owned by other companies.

Rep. Lipinski is the most senior member from Illinois on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, serving on three subcommittees: Aviation; Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials; and Highways and Transit.  Rep. Quigley is the sole Illinois member on the Appropriations Committee, where he serves on the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development subcommittee.