Railway Safety Act: How new proposed legislation aims to prevent train disasters like East Palestine

EATON — Ohio lawmakers want to prevent another toxic train derailment like the one in East Palestine.

>>PHOTOS: Ohio Senators propose railway safety bill after NE Ohio train derailment

News Center 7′s John Bedell talked to both of Ohio’s U.S. Senators about the new bill that could impact the entire country. He also took a look at some of the history of these kinds of wrecks in our state.

Bedell says this kind of bipartisan legislation comes from both Senators Sherrod Brown and J.D. Vance and the goal is to make our railways across the country safer.

In communities all across the Dayton-area, you do not have to wait long to see a train come by.

Rail safety is something that impacts many Ohioans.

The Ohio Rail Development Commission says the state’s more than 5,100 miles of active rail lines is the fourth most extensive in the country.

>>The Railway Safety Act of 2023: Senators propose bipartisan bill due to Ohio train derailment

Senators Brown and Vance are co-sponsoring the Railway Safety Act in response to the toxic train derailment in East Palestine last month.

“If you look at what happened in East Palestine, you had a very defective ball bearing; something that should have been noticed,” said Senator Vance. “If it had been noticed, you would not have had the catastrophe that you had. That’s actually one of the things that our legislation does, is force a national sensor program that identifies defective ball bearings so that they don’t lead to these catastrophic derailments.”

>>NTSB: Key tank car part melted after Ohio train derailment

Bedell said the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found an overheated wheel bearing led to the derailment of the train in East Palestine.

Officials said by the time an alarm went off letting the crew know about the overheating, it was too late.

The bearing was so badly damaged it failed as the crew tried slowing the train to a stop.

>>East Palestine derailment: Timeline of key events in toxic train disaster

“We want to make sure there are fewer accidents,” Senator Brown said. “And when there are that the damage is much less, especially on the overheated wheels, especially on the hot boxes, especially when carrying hazardous materials.”

Among other things, Bedell says the bill aims to reduce the risk of wheel bearing failures by requiring trains hauling hazmat to be scanned by so-called hotbox detectors every 10 miles.

>>PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Miamisburg train derailment remembered

Many in the Miami Valley remember the train derailment in Miamisburg in 1986.

Cars carrying phosphorus derailed and burned for days.

An investigation found the train was speeding on a newly-installed section of the track.

At the time, it led to the largest evacuation in Ohio history.

News Center 7 will continue the progress of the Railway Safety Act in Washington and let you know what happens.

Comments on this article