As we mark the solemn one-year anniversary of the East Palestine derailment in eastern Ohio, we find ourselves reflecting on the progress made in enhancing rail safety and the work still yet to be done.
Ohio’s legislature responded to last year’s derailment by passing language to make Ohio one of the safest states in the country for rail transportation. The provisions within House Bill 23, specifically the two-person crew mandate, requirements for wayside defect detectors, and studies initiated by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) on rail safety, demonstrate Ohio’s commitment to safeguarding both our rail workers and the communities through which these vital transportation arteries pass.
We are concerned by the challenge mounted by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) against Ohio’s two-person crew mandate. The safety of our railways should never be compromised, and we are confident that the court system will uphold Ohio’s law, setting a precedent that prioritizes the well-being of our railway workers and the communities they serve.
We also call upon Norfolk Southern to support the residents of East Palestine, who have endured the human consequences of the derailment. It is imperative that they prioritize the restoration of normalcy for East Palestine, regardless of the financial cost. These residents deserve our unwavering support as they move forward with their lives.
We urge the United States Congress to take up the Railway Safety Act of 2023, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and JD Vance. This common-sense reform addresses critical issues within our rail network, ensuring the safety of both rail workers and the public. Now is the time for Congress to come together and pass this crucial legislation, enhancing rail safety across our robust national freight network.
Let us remember the lessons learned from the East Palestine derailment and use them as a catalyst for positive change. By upholding Ohio’s commitment to rail safety, supporting the affected communities, and advocating for national reforms, we can ensure a safer and more secure future for our railroads.