S. 576 would create a revolving fund for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to respond to certain rail carrier and motor carrier accidents involving hazardous materials. The bill also would increase mandatory authorizations for grant programs that fund emergency preparedness for accidents involving hazardous materials. In addition, S. 576 would increase civil penalties for rail carriers that violate federal safety requirements.
The bill would authorize appropriations for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), within DOT, to develop new safety systems and to make grants to railroads for research, development, and installation of train defect detectors and other safety features for trains and railroads. (Defect detectors measure a train’s speed and the heat caused by friction on the tracks, which can signal a potential derailment.)
S. 576 would impose new restrictions on rail carriers and require the FRA to complete studies, issue regulations, and update its processes for monitoring the safety of rail carriers. Finally, the bill would require various reports and other administrative actions.