Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials

The Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials has jurisdiction over the economic and safety regulation of railroads, the transportation of hazardous materials, and the issue of pipeline safety.

The Subcommittee also has jurisdiction over the agencies that administer these regulations. Railroad rates, service matters, and restructuring transactions, including mergers, is overseen by the five-member Surface Transportation Board (STB). The independent agency also has the authority to address national emergencies as they affect the nation’s rail transportation system, and is responsible for resolving certain disputes involving Amtrak.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is responsible for administering railroad safety laws and 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 Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has jurisdiction over the safe transportation of energy products and other hazardous materials.

Additionally, the Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the benefit but not revenue aspects of railroad retirement and unemployment systems, as well as rail labor relations.

In the 115th Congress, priorities for the Subcommittee include strong oversight of Amtrak and the federal railroad regulatory agencies.  Important Amtrak reforms were included in the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act of 2015 (PRRIA), passed as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, to ensure the passenger rail service operates more efficiently and more like a business.  The reforms must be implemented as Congress intended in order to save taxpayer dollars. Oversight of the FRA and the STB are also critical to ensure that passenger and freight rail operate as safely as possible and without stifling the flow of commerce and the economy.

These and other issues related to our national system of railroads will be essential to ensuring America’s infrastructure is ready for the challenges of the 21st century.

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
  • Amtrak Inspector General
  • Northeast Corridor 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 (RRB) 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) 

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