The Honorable Anthony Foxx
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Secretary Foxx,
We are writing to express our support for the creation of a Short Line Railroad Safety Institute designed to enhance safety in the short line freight railroad industry, including the transportation of crude oil and ethanol.
Short line railroads operate more than 50,000 miles of track, which is approximately one-third of the national railroad network. These short lines play an important role as a feeder system for the larger Class I railroads, helping connect local communities to the national railroad system. Unfortunately, many of these short line railroads lack the resources that larger railroads are able to dedicate to safety training.
It is our understanding that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has already discussed this proposed safety institute with the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), and that the FRA has indicated its support for further developing the proposal. This is definitely a step in the right direction and we would like to commend the FRA for acknowledging the unique challenges that confront short lines across the nation.
As we discussed when you testified before our Subcommittee, there is no silver bullet to improving rail safety. It is a complicated multi-faceted issue involving prevention, mitigation, and response aspects. The proposed Short Line Railroad Safety Institute could be an important part of the larger solution and would help improve the safe transportation of crude oil and other hazardous materials.
We ask that you examine the availability of existing resources within FRA to address emergency response training for short line railroads this fiscal year. We look forward to working with you to help make the proposed Short Lne Railroad Safety Institute a reality. Thank you for your attention to this matter.