Dems introduce train audit bill after deadly NJ Transit crash

Dems introduce train audit bill after deadly NJ Transit crash
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Two New Jersey Democrats unveiled legislation on Wednesday that would require greater transparency about train safety audits after a deadly train crash in their state last year.

Reps. Donald Payne Jr. and Albio Sires co-authored the bill, which would inform the public whenever a railroad or rail transit agency is under investigation by the federal government for safety violations.

The measure comes in the wake of a fatal New Jersey Transit crash last fall, in which a packed commuter train slammed into the Hoboken station and killed a woman standing on the platform.

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It was only revealed after the deadly incident, however, that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) had been conducting a “deep audit” of NJ Transit in response to an uptick in safety violations.

Payne and Sires said it’s concerning that the passengers who ride the train every day were unaware of the audit.

“I am pleased to introduce this legislation that will ensure that people know when the railroads they rely on are under investigation for safety reasons,” Sires said in a statement. “It is imperative that Members of Congress and Senators can inform their constituents when a railroad or rail transit agency is violating safety regulations.”

The measure would require the FRA and the Federal Transit Administration to notify lawmakers if they conduct any safety audits on railroads or rail transit agencies. It also would require federal agencies to submit a report to Congress detailing the results of the investigation within 90 days of the audit’s completion.

“We need to make sure that safety audits are transparent in order for Congress to provide effective oversight of rail transit agencies,” Payne said. “I’m pleased to join Rep. Sires in introducing this legislation, and will continue to work with my colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to improve the safety of this nation’s railroads.”