Pa. bill covering crew size, train length and detectors heads for committee vote

May 2, 2023

Looking to follow in the footsteps of Ohio, Pennsylvania’s Legislature has before it a comprehensive rail safety bill covering train length, two-person crews and wayside detectors.

H.B. 1028 was introduced by 24 representatives April 25 with the House Consumer Protection, Technologies and Utilities Committee scheduled to vote upon the bill on Wednesday, May 3.

Chairman Robert F. Matzie (District 16) was the primary sponsor, which has, among its provisions:

  • Fines carriers $10,000 for blocking rail crossings for more than five minutes.
  • Limits train lengths to 8,500 feet.
  • Permits rail labor representatives to have an active, participatory role while the state investigates rail safety matters.
  • Requires a two-person aboard freight trains and fines carriers who violate the provision.
  • Authorizes the state to inspect to ensure the functionality of wayside detectors in the state.
  • Authorizes a state study of hazmat/waste transport.
  • Create a reporting system when carriers operating trains carrying hazmat/waste report these to the state.

SMART Transportation Division Pennsylvania State Legislative Director Paul Pokrowka has been working for years to advocate for rail safety and get legislation across the finish line.

“The incident February just across the border from our state in East Palestine brought attention nationwide to the importance of railroad safety,” he said. “Legislators in Pennsylvania have taken notice and have decided to do something about it. We appreciate their support and look to advance this legislation out of committee and into the full House and beyond — we thank Rep. Matzie and his staff very much for their help in advocating for H.B. 1028.”

Read the bill.