Nehls Leads Call for Biden Administration to Prioritize Rail Safety Over Special Interests
Rep. Troy Nehls (R-TX), Chairman of the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee, led fellow T&I Committee Republicans in urging the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the Biden Administration to immediately return to prioritizing the continued testing of automated track inspection (ATI) safety technology.
The Committee Members wrote to FRA Administrator Amit Bose to reinstitute its previous longstanding policy of approving waivers to encourage freight railroads’ testing of ATI, which has been shown to decrease accidents, identify new safety issues, and free up safety inspectors to focus on other important duties. The Members also asked the FRA to specifically approve a waiver requested by BNSF Railway Company. The FRA previously denied this request, but in March, a Federal Appeals Court vacated the agency’s waiver denial.
“For decades until this Administration changed its policy, FRA fully supported the continued growth of ATI safety technology through FRA’s Automated Track Inspection Program (ATIP),” the Members stated in their letter. “Under President Biden, FRA suddenly and without any valid safety reason, began denying waivers for ATI safety use.”
“Moreover, as the agency charged with overseeing and advancing rail safety, the FRA must prioritize innovative safety improvements and embrace the use of ATI safety technology as an essential complement to manual safety inspections.”
“We urge FRA to reverse its dangerous and unfounded waiver denial as soon as possible. We further request that FRA reverse any other previous denials related to ATI safety technology – or similar technology – and revert to the longstanding policy of fully supporting and unconditionally approving waivers to test and use railroad and track safety technologies.”
The T&I Republicans who joined Chairman Nehls in sending the letter are Reps. Rick Crawford (R-AR), Daniel Webster (R-FL), David Rouzer (R-NC), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Tracey Mann (R-KS), Rudy Yakym (R-IN), Brandon Williams (R-NY), Mike Ezell (R-MS), John Duarte (R-CA), and Aaron Bean (R-FL).
The Members requested information from the FRA regarding the agency’s process for considering and determining waiver requests, as well as efforts to further promote and implement safety technologies, such as ATI. While this information was initially requested in June of 2022, the agency did not provide substantive responses to all questions asked of it.
Click here to read the full letter.