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Lipinski helps lead rail safety effort

Local representatives are backing the Reassuring Adequate Investment in Lifesaving Systems (RAILS) Act.

Congressmen Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) and Mike Quigley (D-5th) introduced the measure, which reauthorizes the Rail Safety Technology Grant program that they say will improve the safety of the nation’s railroads.

Supporting the bill are Congressmen Bobby Rush (D-1st), Danny Davis (D-7th), Luis Gutierrez (D-4th), Tammy Duckworth (D-8th) and Robin Kelly (D-2nd).

The bill provides $200 million for each of the next five years for positive train control safety technologies, rail integrity inspection systems, a system for electronic communication regarding hazardous material rail shipments, and other new rail safety items.

ÒRepresenting a district that includes four commuter rail lines, Amtrak, and six of the country’s seven Class I freight railroads, I understand how important rail safety is,” said Lipinski. ÒThis bill dedicates funding and resources to benefit the safety of millions of Americans as a key part of the Chicagoland economy moves to modernize its safety systems to comply with the positive train control requirement.”

ÒAs the nation’s rail hub, nowhere are investments in safety technology more crucial than in Chicago. Yet, commuter railroads like Metra lack the funding necessary to ensure new safety technologies, like positive train control, are implemented the right way,” said Quigley. ÒReauthorizing the Rail Safety Technology Grant program will provide the critical funding and support needed for commuter railroads around the country to modernize their infrastructure and keep their passengers safe.”

Lipinski helped create the grant program in the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 to help freight railroads and rail commuter agencies install positive train control through the end of 2015.

He and Quigley helped provide $60 million in the final year of this program. This new bill reauthorizes the program to help various entities get much-needed money to continue this safety improvement and it authorizes additional uses, like spectrum acquisition, proponents state.

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