US senators have submitted two letters to the US Senate Appropriations Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) subcommittee urging that new funding be allotted for various necessary upgrades and safety improvements to rail lines in the country, including the Northeast Corridor (NEC).
THUD Subcommittee chairwoman Susan Collins and ranking member Jack Reed emphasised in the letters that insufficient funding for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and NEC improvements could jeopardise the ability to investigate rail accidents.
The letters were submitted by Democratic Connecticut US Senator Chris Murphy and others.
The senators requested that the FY 2018 THUD Appropriations bill fund NTSB at $108.7m to hire additional rail investigators, which is $3.5m above the FY 2016 level.
Murphy said: “We’ve seen too many horrific and deadly rail accidents in the last few years, and they all could have been prevented. We know what causes these crashes and exactly how to stop them, but without this funding we won’t be able to.
“In Connecticut, our economy hinges on our ability to move people safely and quickly to the big metro centres of Manhattan and Boston, especially along the Northeast Corridor.
“We should fund the NTSB and these critical Northeast Corridor programmes at the levels we’ve requested; our constituents can’t risk waiting any longer.”
They also requested funding of two NEC programmes consistent with levels authorised in the FAST Act of 2015.
The federal-state partnership for state of good repair programme improves passenger rail infrastructure, while the consolidated rail infrastructure and safety improvements programme can expand the use of life-saving positive train control technology.