The Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials has jurisdiction over the economic and safety regulation of railroads and the agencies that administer those regulations. Economic regulation is administered by the three-member Surface Transportation Board (STB). This independent agency also has the authority to address national emergencies as they affect the nation’s rail transportation system.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is responsible for administering railroad safety laws, railroad infrastructure and development programs, possesses responsibilities relevant to homeland security, and has federal oversight of Amtrak.
Amtrak is the nation’s major provider of intercity passenger rail service. Also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, Amtrak was established by law in 1970 and required to assume the responsibility from private sector railroads for provision of passenger rail services. The Subcommittee continues to oversee efforts to increase efficiency and accountability in Amtrak’s operations.
The Subcommittee also has jurisdiction over the benefit but not revenue aspects of railroad retirement and unemployment systems, as well as rail labor relations.
The transportation of hazardous materials and the issue of pipeline safety also fall under the scope of this subcommittee.
Issues and agencies under the jurisdiction of the Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee include:
- Economic regulation of railroads
- Surface Transportation Board (STB)
- Railroad safety, including safety practices, equipment, and reporting
- Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
- Railroad development programs, such as high-speed rail research and development
- Rail infrastructure programs
- Rail security
- Amtrak Inspector General
- Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Operations Advisory Commission
- Railroad retirement (regarding the benefit aspects) and unemployment
- Railroad Retirement Board, which administers the retirement and unemployment programs unique to railroads
- Railroad Retirement Board Inspector General
- National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust
- Railway Labor Act
- The National Mediation Board, which administer the Railway Labor Act
- Federal Employers’ Liability Act, which is the railroad worker-compensation statute
- Hazardous materials transportation
- Pipeline transportation safety
- Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)