A pair of bills limiting train length have been introduced in the Iowa House and Senate and have gained some traction. House File 2339 and Senate File 2286 both contain language that would limit the length of any freight train to 8,500 feet.

House File 278 (now renumbered as HF 2339) was introduced January 28, 2021, by David Maxwell (R – Dist. 76). The Senate companion bill, Senate File 2051 (now renumbered as 2286) was introduced by Sen. Jesse Green (R – Dist. 24) on January 18, 2022. SF 2051 originally had two-person crew language in it, but that was taken out so that the bill would match the House version of the bill.

As mentioned above, the bills, if passed, would limit train length to 8,500 feet and provide for a penalty of not less than $500, nor more than $5,000 per violation.

Currently, both the House and the Senate versions of the bills have passed out of committee and they await floor votes in each chamber.

“We’ve had good support at the committee level to get the bill to where it is now, but it only takes one to tank the whole thing,” Iowa State Legislative Director Chris Smith said. “I’m hopeful and I’m happy that we got it this far.”

Smith said that he also got House File 210 introduced by Rep. Ray Sorensen (R – Dist. 20) on Feb. 10. This bill would double the fines for motorists who traverse railroad grade crossings against a gate or signal at quiet zones. If passed, the fine would double to $520. If facing financial hardship, motorists would have the option to take a DOT class instead. HF 210 has passed out of committee and will be renumbered for the full House to vote on.

Smith says that he’s not sure when any of the three bills mentioned will come to a vote, but he’s hopeful that they’ll pass.