COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Another train derailment in Ohio happened just over one month after the derailment in East Palestine.
This comes as bipartisan efforts both at the Ohio Statehouse and Washington D.C. are underway to prevent these incidents from happening again.
“I think it was a good year for us to put some safeguards in there and something we had a good bipartisan approach on,” Ohio Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) said after the transportation budget was favorably reported from committee on Feb. 28.
The state transportation budget (HB 23) passed out of the Ohio House last week with multiple amendments to address rail safety. The amendments do things like require a two-person crew on trains, ensure wayside detector effectiveness and require a report to the legislature of harmful chemicals being traveled through the state.
“We need to have efficient travel of goods and services without having to endanger the lives of every Ohioan who lives near a track,” Ohio Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney (D-Cleveland) said.
The transportation budget will now be deliberated in the Ohio Senate; its first hearing is Wednesday.
On the federal level, Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) has introduced bipartisan legislation with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to address train safety both in Ohio and across the United States.
“So, you basically get ahead of these catastrophic incidents before they happen,” Vance said.
The legislation does three main things, Vance explained why each is important:
- Increases the penalties for train companies
“The penalties for the train companies is actually very, very low,” he said. “Less than a slap on the wrist, so we bumped up the fines pretty significantly in an effort to get the trains to prevent this stuff from happening more often.”
- Addresses wayside detector efficiency
“It would be better to know that you have a defective ball bearing before it crashes and I think our legislation will help make that happen,” Vance said.
- Require a two-person crew
“You just don’t want to have massive pieces of machinery hurdling through towns, hurdling through the countryside with too few people actually manning them,” Vance said.
Vance said he is confident about the legislation, which has garnered support from both sides of the aisle.
“Am I certain it’s going to pass? No,” he said. “But we’re going to do the work to make sure we give it as much of a chance as we can.”