BRIDGEPORT, CT – One year ago today, on the city line of Bridgeport and Fairfield, a tragic train derailment injured more than 70 people. This unfortunate incident forever changed the lives of many residents and commuters and further exposed issues with the Metro-North line.

Earlier this month, Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) joined fellow U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Elizabeth Esty to introduce the Rail Safety Enforcement Act, comprehensive legislation to enhance rail safety. 

“One year ago, a derailment due to unstable rails and loose embankments caused two trains full of rush-hour commuters to collide, tearing cars open, injuring dozens, and interrupting commutes for days after,” said Himes. “Metro-North now has new leadership and a plan to improve, but I will continue to be vigilant as these plans are put into effect. Metro-North must return to more reliable service and put better safety mechanisms in place, and I was proud to sponsor legislation to make sure one of our nation’s busiest railways works better for the people it serves.”

The Rail Safety Enforcement Act has five main provisions:

  1. Requires that every rail carrier control cab have an “alerter,” an automatic failsafe device that sounds an alarm when a train engineer seems idle while the train is in motion.
  2. Requires every rail carrier to develop a fatigue risk plan within 60 days and submit it to the Secretary of Transportation.
  3. Requires every carrier to report on their progress in implementing the Positive Train Control System within 180 days of enactment.
  4. Requires the Secretary of Transportation to issue regulations mandating “shunting,” or redundant signal protection for workers on the track.
  5. Mandates that railroad employees are provided with predictable and defined work and rest schedules.

“We were very fortunate to have not lost any lives as the result of the train derailment. I’m thankful to the hard work of the Bridgeport and Fairfield first responders for their efforts in keeping the passengers safe and calm following such a traumatic experience,” said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch. “This event has helped to shed light on the need for technology and safety upgrades for our rail system. While there have been some positive steps forward, I support Congressman Himes’ efforts because there is still substantial work to be done to ensure that our trains are safer and more reliable.”

Fairfield First Selectman Mike Tetreau said, “This tragedy shocked the entire community.   We had always believed that train service was safe and secure.   We know that a better job of planning and investing in rail safety is needed for the future. ”