April 11,2018

House passes bill in response to Hoboken crash. It’s a first for rookie Jersey Democrat.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Tuesday approved legislation to improve the collection of railroad safety data.

The bill was introduced in response to the the September 2016 fatal train crash at Hoboken Terminal.

And it’s the first piece of legislation by freshman Rep. Josh Gottheimer to pass the chamber. The Democrat took office in January 2017.

Under the measure, the Federal Railroad Administration would be required to follow the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s inspector general designed to make it easier to uncover safety problems.

Gottheimer introduced the FRA Safety Data Improvement Act in February shortly after the National Transportation Safety Board blamed the Hoboken crash on the engineer’s fatigue due to undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea.Better reporting of data will make it easier to track safety problems, Gottheimer said.

“Our roads and rails in New Jersey and across our country are literally crumbling — and our rail safety is way behind where it should be,” Gottheimer said. “We can’t play partisan games with the safety of our children and family.”

Gottheimer’s bill was the second one addressing railroad safety and security that has passed the House in recent weeks.

Last month, the House approved a bill by Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman to require the Transportation Security Administration to establish priorities in protecting railroad and transit systems.

“Surface transportation systems are absolutely vital to the daily lives of millions of Americans,” said Watson Coleman, D-12th Dist. “Given their critical importance, it is no surprise that terrorists have targeted these systems for attack.”

An attempted terrorist bombing occurred in December in a passenger tunnel connecting the New York City subways to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Four people, including the suspected bomber, were injured.

Just days later, the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress said the TSA did not know where the highest security risks to the nation’s rail systems were.