The derailment last May in DC’s Ward 5 of a CSX freight train carrying hazardous material was a stark reminder the District of Columbia is a major rail hub for passenger, commuter, and freight trains, some transporting hazardous materials. “Improving rail safety with strong measures to protect D.C. residents must be a major priority,” says Herbert Harris Jr., State Chairman of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), one of the Metro Washington Council's newest affiliates. These measures are the focus of the "Rail Safety and Security Act of 2015," scheduled to be voted on by the Judiciary Committee at the DC City Council today. The culmination of over five years of advocacy and work by BLET, the legislation would establish a state rail safety office in the District of Columbia, includes several provisions that will improve rail safety including oversight of hazardous materials shipments. "We applaud Councilmember McDuffie for advancing this legislation and making rail safety a priority by holding the committee vote,” said Harris. “We additionally believe the legislation should include a Freight Crew Staffing Requirement for all freight trains operating in the District of Columbia. This will provide additional safety protections for the neighborhoods and residents living near our rail corridors in the event of a future accident or derailment.”photo DC Fire and EMS
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