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A Year After Fairfield Derailment, Himes Calls For Increased Rail Safety

A firefighter investigates the scene of the derailment on the Fairfield-Bridgeport border in May 2013.
A firefighter investigates the scene of the derailment on the Fairfield-Bridgeport border in May 2013. Photo Credit: Fairfield Police Department Facebook Page

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Lawmakers continue to fight for enhanced rail safety a year after a train collision and derailment on the Bridgeport-Fairfield border that injured 70 people and exposed problems on the Metro-North Line.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-4th District) introduced the Rail Safety Enforcement Act with U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Elizabeth Esty, Democratic colleagues from Connecticut after more than 70 people were injured and track was destroyed in the derailment May 17, 2013.

“Metro-North now has new leadership and a plan to improve, but I will continue to be vigilant as these plans are put into effect,” Himes said. “Metro-North must return to more reliable service and put better safety mechanisms in place, and I was proud to sponsor legislation to make sure one of our nation's busiest railways works better for the people it serves.”

The Rail Safety Enforcement Act would require equipping every rail carrier control cab with an automatic fail-safe alarm that will sound when a train engineer seems idle while the train is in motion; ensuring the secretary of transportation issues regulations mandating redundant signal protection for workers on the track; and mandating that railway employees are provided with defined work and rest schedules.

The law would also require carriers to develop and submit fatigue risk plans to the secretary of transportation within 60 days, and to report on their progress in implementing the Positive Train Control System within 180 days of enactment.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch backs this legislation.

“My heart goes out to those who were injured, and their families, as a result of this horrific collision,” Finch said. “But this incident should have never happened. And I strongly urge legislative leaders in our nation’s capitol to back Congressman Himes, Congresswoman Esty, and Congresswoman DeLauro in moving forward with this legislation. It will help crack down on people having to endure unnecessary wrecks like this in the future.”

Fairfield First Selectman Mike Tetreau echoed this view.

“We know that a better job of planning and investing in for rail safety is needed for the future,” Tetreau said.

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