Leader Calls 167 Derailments in Two Counties in 10 Years “Unacceptable”
Today, Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-27) joined local leaders at the site of the most recent train derailment in Dunkirk, New York to announce efforts he will take in the House of Representatives to improve rail safety in Western New York.
“The alarming number of train accidents in recent months cannot be overlooked,” said Congressman Higgins. “The Federal Railroad Administration should be exercising it’s authority to convince the railroad companies to take this issue seriously. In addition to tying up our first responders, costing thousands in private and municipal property damage and creating environmental hazards, each derailment poses serious safety risks for residents, passengers and railroad employees.”
According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), over the last 10 years there have been 12 derailments in Chautauqua County and 155 in Erie County.
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, of which Higgins is a member, will draft legislation in coming months to strengthen the federal rail safety program, in order to reduce derailments by requiring tougher federal safety regulations and increasing resources for inspections and equipment.
An FRA study released just weeks ago found 3,518 defects on CSX properties nationwide, 369 of which were in New York.
“Railroad companies cannot be allowed to forgo adequate and necessary infrastructure investments and enjoy record profits at the expense of public safety,” said Congressman Higgins. CSX experienced a 46 percent increase in their 2006 4th quarter profits and earned $1.3 billion last year alone.
Last December, in response to several local derailments, Congressman Higgins wrote the FRA Administrator Joseph Boardman requesting a systematic inventory and review of the soundness of railroad bridges and overpasses in Western New York. In March, Administrator Boardman responded, informing the Congressman that the FRA did not have the resources to review every bridge in WNY, however they did review bridges in Cheektowaga and Buffalo involved in recent derailments and found no unsafe conditions.