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Blumenthal Statement On FRA Advisory On Redundant Signal Protection

(Hartford, CT) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, today released the following statement after the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released a rail safety advisory concerning redundant signal protection. More than six years ago, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) urged the FRA – the federal agency responsible for rail safety – to require that railroads use redundant signal protection technology, such as shunting, to prevent railroad employees from being struck and killed by trains. According to the NTSB, this technology would likely have saved the life of Robert Luden in West Haven in May 2013 – as well as other railroad workers in the years before and after the NTSB first issued its recommendation.

“After years of inexplicable delay and inexcusable foot-dragging in failing to mandate life-saving redundant signal technology, the FRA has issued an anemic advisory devoid of any real teeth or substance. The FRA has issued no requirements whatsoever. It has – yet again – avoided and ducked its responsibility to issue regulations. Its advisory is little more than a meek, underwhelming set of suggestions that are vague on technology and short on substance and detail, lacking any real discussion on shunting and other redundant safety devices.

“Sadly and insultingly, the FRA seems ignorant as to where Robert Luden was killed, stating his death occurred in Danbury, nearly 35 miles from where it actually happened in West Haven.

“The FRA must be compelled to do its job of making our railroads safe and reliable and issue the numerous regulations that have been irresponsibly withheld – and some illegally delayed. Only regulations have the force of law, and FRA advisories are essentially unenforceable.

“Again, I call on the president to immediately appoint a new leader at the FRA, who can end an era of regulatory capture and take action to protect lives. And I urge Congress to approve legislation requiring safety technology, as mandated in my rail safety bill.”