Quigley, Lipinski Lead Effort to Finish Rail System Safety Initiative
WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD), along with Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL-03) introduced the Reassuring Adequate Investment in Lifesaving Systems or the RAILS Act, which reauthorizes the Railroad Safety Technology Grants Program to provide critical funding for train control technologies, rail integrity inspection systems, paperless hazardous communication devices, and other new rail safety items. Joined in support by U.S. Representatives Bobby Rush (IL-01), Robin Kelly (IL-02), Luis Gutierrez (IL-04), and Danny Davis (IL-07), 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.
“As 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 Rep. Quigley. “Reauthorizing 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.”
“Representing 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 Rep. Lipinski. “This 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.”
The RAILS Act reauthorizes the program to help various entities get much-needed money to finish the project, and it authorizes additional uses, like spectrum acquisition, which is needed for the technology, and interoperability testing, which helps trains use tracks owned by other companies.
The Railroad Safety Technology Grant Program was first authorized under the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. The program authorizes the Department of Transportation to provide grants to passenger and freight rail carriers, railroad suppliers, and state and local governments for projects that have a public benefit of improved railroad safety and efficiency. Reps. Quigley and Lipinski helped set aside $60 million in the FY14 omnibus to fund this project in its final year.
As Illinois’ only member on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Quigley has pushed for a long-term surface transportation bill and prioritized Chicago-area infrastructure investments as a member of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD). Most recently, Rep. Quigley pushed for the Positive Train Control Amendment and helped set aside $60 million in the FY14 omnibus to fund the Railroad Safety Technology Grants Program in its final year. He has helped secure $35 million in Core Capacity grants to benefit CTA and $61 million for projects to ease flooding in Cook County. Most recently he fought for increased funding for the TIGER grant program to benefit both highways and pedestrian projects.