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California Briefing / WASHINGTON

Rail safety bill clears key vote

September 30, 2008|From the Associated Press

A groundbreaking rail safety reform bill cleared a key vote in the U.S. Senate on Monday, as lawmakers invoked the Sept. 12 Metrolink train collision that killed 25 people and injured 135.

Senators voted 69 to 17 to take a final vote on the bill Wednesday. The measure requires more rest for railroad workers and technology that can stop a train in its tracks if it's headed for a collision. The House passed the bill last week, and the expected Senate approval would send the legislation to President Bush for his signature.

Investigators have said that safety technology mandated by the legislation would have prevented the Chatsworth disaster, which occurred when a commuter train failed to stop at a signal light and crashed head-on with a Union Pacific freight.

The bill caps the number of hours per week that rail crews can work, adds 200 new safety inspectors for the Federal Railroad Administration and requires the installation by 2015 of technology that can put the brakes on a train if it runs a red light or gets off track.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement Monday noting that the Federal Railroad Administration has been operating under an expired law for 10 years because Congress has failed to act.

"The 25 tragic deaths suffered earlier this month in Chatsworth, Calif., is proof that the time has come to act again," Schwarzenegger said.

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