WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) announced Tuesday that the Federal Railway Administration is expected to receive a $15 million budget increase that will go towards hiring railway inspectors and improving rail safety.
The funds pushed for by the two senators come a month after the Metro-North derailment in the Bronx that killed four people and injured dozens and led to the resignation of Metro-North president Howard Permut.
The Federal Railway Administration will receive the funds to be used in part to hire 45 railroad inspectors. The funds are part of the administration's $185 million total budget that is part of the proposed $1.1 trillion federal budget that is expected to pass.
The senators said in the release that the agency is "woefully underfunded" and has the resources to inspect only one-percent of the nation's rails.
“This is a vitally important increase in urgently-needed inspectors, who will make railroad travel safer now and in the future,” the senators said in a joint statement.
The Senators noted that the Federal Railway Administration does not seek to inspect 100% of the nation’s rails each year – a task that is shared by states and the railroads themselves – but additional funding would allow them to dramatically increase the percentage and spot safety checks.
“Having additional inspectors for our nation's rails will prevent future accidents and make the riding public safer, plain and simple,” Schumer said in the statement. “We’ve been under investing in our rail safety agency for too long, but with this major funding boost, we’re well on the way to fixing this problem.”
The legislation also required that the results of the Federal Railway Administration's vigorous investigation into Metro-North's passenger train procedures -- called "Operation Deep Dive" -- along with the recommended action plan and timeline for completed action items be delivered to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations by March 17, 2014.
The Federal Transit Administration is expected to determine whether safety investments in Metro-North's system were appropriately prioritized.
Schumer and Blumenthal said that without the proper resources, inspections and certifications of new safety technologies would have been "unacceptably delayed."
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