Schumer, Gillibrand Call On DOT To Increase Train Safety Measures

    U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer

    U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-Brooklyn) and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-Queens)  joined a group of 13 Senate Democrats to call on Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to hold railroads accountable for failing to implement sufficient safety measures last week.

    The Senators have requested a status report on railroads’ implementation of positive train control (PTC), a lifesaving technology required by Congressional mandate to be fully implemented by 2018. The Senators’ letter comes four days after an Amtrak train derailed in DuPont, Washington, killing three and injuring dozens more. The Washington tragedy is the latest in a troubling trend of fatal train derailments and collisions. In just the last four years, three deadly train accidents have occurred in the Northeast corridor that might have been prevented if PTC enforced.

    U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

    The letter also contained a list of questions regarding PTC implementation in the upcoming year including:

    1. Based on the reports and information provided to you by railroads, and your knowledge of efforts necessary to complete PTC implementation, what railroads do you anticipate will have fully implemented PTC by the end of 2018?
    2. What railroads do you anticipate will fail to implement PTC by 2018?
    3. What is your plan to impose fines and penalties for railroads that fail to comply with the law?
    4. Can you confirm that you will be vigorous in enforcing the deadline, imposing strong fines and penalties, where necessary, on railroads that fail to meet the deadline?
    5. How are you communicating your enforcement plans to the industry?
    6. What steps are you taking to implement other provisions of law and safety requirements, such as requirements from the 2015 surface transportation bill, known as the FAST Act, that passenger and commuter railroads complete a speed-limit action plan (section 11406) to prevent over-speed accidents into curves and commuter railroads improve inspection practices (section 11409)?
    7. What level of funding will be included in the President’s yet-to-be-released infrastructure proposal to expedite PTC implementation and advance other rail safety efforts?
    8. What steps is DOT taking to approve and expedite the use of federal funds and grants by recipients for the implementation of PTC?

    “Since NTSB first recommended PTC, more than 300 people have died, thousands have been injured, and millions of dollars in property damages have been incurred. The PTC deadline is now almost one year away – December 31, 2018.  It is imperative that railroads complete implementation before the deadline. They must clearly understand that the consequences of failure will be stringent and prompt,” wrote the Senators.

    Rozic Bill Easing Work Schedules for State Employees Gets Cuomo Signature

    Assembly Member Nily Rozic

    Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Hillcrest, Fresh Meadows, Oakland Gardens, Bayside, Douglaston) recently announced that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the legislation (S5811A/A7634A) she authored with former State Senator Daniel Squadron (D- Brooklyn) requiring regular analyses to expand flexible working arrangements within state agencies.

    Rozic’s bill requires the President of the Civil Service Commission to prepare a biennial report on best practices for flexible work arrangements as well as ways for agencies to implement new and improved flexible work programs. The analysis would provide a snapshot of the current state of alternative work schedules within state agencies to highlight ways to expand them.

    “With an increased demand for flexible working arrangements and alternative work schedules, flexibility should be seen not as a perk to work around but as a way of enhancing the performance and well-being of men and women, employees and employers alike. This new law takes a step forward in modernizing our workforce and improving the work-life balance of many New Yorkers,” said Rozic.

    The bill passed the Assembly and Senate with bipartisan support earlier this year.

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