FAST Act on the fast track to approval

December 3, 2015

Written by  Carolina Worrell, Managing Editor, Railway Age Magazine

Congressional conferees on Dec. 1, 2015 reached an agreement on the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, a five-year surface transportation reauthorization bill and the first long-term bill of its kind in a decade. It comes after years of predeccesor-bill extensions and partisan bickering. Of  interest to freight railroads are key provisions on safety enhancements for tank cars moving flammable liquids in the U.S. and electronically-controlled pneumatic (ECP) train braking.Website Insert Gathering of Professionals 1 copy

On July 30, 2015, the U.S. Senate approved the DRIVE Act on a bipartisan vote of 65-34. After House passage of similar legislation, the Senate and House formed a conference committee on which Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) both served to resolve the differences between the two bills. The text of the agreement, now known as the FAST Act, is available here.

Rail provisions in the FAST Act that exited the House-Senate conference committee include the following:

• Rail Infrastructure Improvements – Improves rail infrastructure and safety by consolidating rail grant programs, cutting red tape and dedicating resources for best use. It also establishes a Federal-State partnership to bring passenger rail assets into a state of good repair.

• Expedites Rail Projects – Accelerates the delivery of rail projects by significantly reforming environmental and historic preservation review processes, applying existing exemptions already used for highways to make critical rail investments go further.

Click here to read the full story.


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