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PUC Responds to Oil Train Report

In response to the release of a final report and assessment of Crude by Rail safety in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) underscored its commitment to rail safety efforts and vowed ongoing cooperation with the Wolf Administration and General Assembly in addressing the recommendations outlined in the report.

“The PUC is part of a multi-layered system that works to ensure the safe transportation of goods and passengers by rail across our state,” said Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “The inspection and engineering work performed by members of the PUC’s Rail Safety Section are part of the daily behind-the-scenes efforts to prevent incidents and reduce risks in Pennsylvania – work that also includes the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the railroads, and numerous other agencies.”

Chairman Brown noted that the rail safety assessment, prepared by Dr. Allan M. Zarembski for the Wolf Administration, contains 27 recommendations, including several that address work performed by the PUC.  “Several of the recommendations related to the PUC, such as coordinating with the FRA to focus additional attention on the inspection of major oil train routes and the filling of existing staff vacancies, are already underway,” noted Chairman Brown. “Other items, such as the hiring of additional PUC inspectors, are being evaluated to determine how they can best be implemented.”

Brown noted that in 2014, PUC Rail Safety Inspectors filed 941 Inspection Reports with the FRA after examining more than 82,000 individual items – ranging from pieces of rail and components on a locomotive or rail car, to safety practices, crew certifications or clear radio communications. Additionally, Commission Rail Safety Engineers were involved in 200 actions related to highway-railroad crossing projects, addressing more than $600 million in infrastructure improvements.

The PUC is committed to enhancing rail safety throughout Pennsylvania, and works closely with the FRA, railroads and other agencies to monitor a variety of factors that can impact the safe movement of trains, cargo and passengers – including track, motive power and equipment, operating practices, hazardous materials and grade crossings.