New York State Governor Kathy Hochul recently continued her call on Congress, the freight rail industry, and federal regulators to improve freight rail safety and take steps to prevent disasters like last week’s derailment in Montgomery County from occurring again.
“Keeping New Yorkers safe is my number one priority, so we cannot wait for another disaster to happen before we take steps to improve rail safety,” Hochul stated. “The train derailment last week in Montgomery County was thankfully free of injuries or spills but demonstrates the incredible need for the federal government and the freight rail industry to take action and protect both residents and the environment.”
Hochul specifically has called for the following actions: the expedition of the phase-in of safer tank cars (DOT 117's) for hazardous materials in advance of the Congressionally mandated 2029 deadline, modernized braking regulations the increased use of electronically controlled pneumatic brakes (ECP) to prevent potential rail derailments, the requirement of all railroads to provide advance notification to state emergency response teams of hazardous cars moving through their state, and the expansion of state and local grants specifically for hazmat preparedness and response planning.
“I applaud the Governor’s continued call for a multi-pronged set of actions on this important safety matter,” commented New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez of Hochul’s actions. “We all recognize that enhancing rail safety is not something that New York State can address on its own - it requires our partners in the freight rail industry and the federal government to work together with us to achieve these important safety objectives. Strengthening rail safety in New York State will help further protect our communities and the environment, reducing the frequency and severity of rail crashes, which are results that we all seek to achieve.”
First outlined by Hochul back in February, the measures aim to create an overall safer freight rail transportation industry in New York state, while also improving emergency response capabilities and efficiency.
“Hazardous material incidents along railroads have become all too common here in New York and across the country,” New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray remarked. “DHSES experts trained in hazmat and disaster response responded to last week’s derailment in Montgomery County, where thankfully no one was injured. Governor Hochul’s proposed common sense measures would undoubtedly create a safer environment for everyone moving forward.”