ASSEMBLY, No. 4460

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

221st LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 3, 2024

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  CLINTON CALABRESE

District 36 (Bergen and Passaic)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman Haider

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Provides certain requirements concerning railroad safety.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning railroad safety and supplementing Title 27 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    As used in P.L.    , c.     (C.         ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill):

     “Board” means the Board of Public Utilities.

     “Branch line” means a secondary railroad track that branches off from a main line.

     “Commissioner” means the Commissioner of Transportation.

     “Dangerous hazardous train” means any railroad locomotive propelling a railroad tank car or connection of railroad tank cars transporting 200,000 gallons or more of petroleum or petroleum products or 20,000 gallons or more of hazardous substances other than petroleum or petroleum products.

     “Defects” include, but are not limited to, hot wheel bearings, hot wheels, defective bearings that are detected through acoustics, dragging equipment, excessive height or weight, shifted loads, low hoses, rail temperature, and wheel conditions.

     “Department” means the Department of Transportation.

     “Emergency services provider” means a law enforcement agency; emergency medical services unit; fire department; emergency communications provider; hazardous material response unit; volunteer fire department; duly incorporated fire or first aid company; or volunteer emergency, ambulance, or rescue squad association, organization, or company that provides emergency services for a local unit.

     “Hazardous substances” means any Class 1 explosives as categorized in Division 1.1, 1.2, or 1.3, as such terms are defined in 49 C.F.R. s.173.50; any flammable gases as defined in 49 C.F.R. s.173.115(a); any flammable liquids as defined in 49 C.F.R. s.173.120(a); any hazardous material as designated by the Secretary of Transportation as hazardous pursuant to 49 U.S.C. s.5103; any high level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel with the same meanings given to a “type B package” or a “fissile material package” as defined in 49 C.F.R. s.173.403; any material poisonous by inhalation or material toxic by inhalation as defined in 49 C.F.R. s.171.8; and any environmentally sensitive chemicals which shall include, but not be limited to:

     a.     AllylChloride;

     b.    Carbon Tetrachloride;

     c.     Chlorobenzene;

     d.    Chloroform;

     e.     O-Dichlorobenzene;

     f.     Dichloropropane (Propylene dichloride);

     g.    Dichloropropane/Dichloropropene mixture;

     h.    Dichloropropene;

     i.     Ethyl Chloride;

     j.     Ethylene Dibromide;

     k.    Ethylene Dibromide and Methyl Bromide mixtures;

     l.     Ethylene Dichloride;

     m.   Epichlorohydrin;

     n.    Methyl Chloroform (1,1,1 Trichloroethane);

     o.    Methylene Chloride (Dichloromethane);

     p.    Methylene Chloride/Chloroform mixture;

     q.    Perchloroethylene (Tetrachloroethylene);

     r.     Perchloroethylene/Trichloroethylene mixture; and

     s.     Trichloroethylene.

     “Local unit” means any county or municipality, or a fire district, or an agency or other instrumentality thereof, or a duly incorporated volunteer fire, ambulance, first aid, emergency, or rescue company or squad.

     “Main line” means a Class I railroad, as documented in current timetables filed by the Class I railroad with the Federal Railroad Administration, over which 5,000,000 or more gross tons of railroad traffic is transported annually.  “Main line” includes railroads used for regularly scheduled intercity or commuter rail passenger service, or both.

     “Major facility” shall have the same meaning as set forth in section 3 of P.L.1976, c.141 (C.58:10-23.11b).

     “Owner” or “operator” means, with respect to any dangerous hazardous train, any person owning the dangerous hazardous train or operating it by lease, contract, or other form of agreement; provided, however, that the owner or operator shall not mean a person who operates a dangerous hazardous train only for the purposes of positioning or moving railroad tank cars within the confines of a major facility or a person whose interest in a dangerous hazardous train solely involves the ownership or lease of one or more railroad tank cars without operational authority.

     “Petroleum” or “petroleum products” shall have the same meaning as set forth in section 3 of P.L.1976, c.141 (C.58:10-23.11b).

     “Railroad” means any form of non-highway ground transportation that runs on rails or electromagnetic guideways, including commuter or other short-haul railroad passenger service in a metropolitan or suburban area, commuter railroad service and high speed ground transportation systems that connect metropolitan areas, without regard to whether those systems use new technologies not associated with traditional railroads.  “Railroad” does not include rapid transit operations in an urban area that are not connected to the general railroad system of transportation.

     “Short line” means an independent railroad company that operates over a relatively short distance.

     “Train” means one or more locomotives coupled with or without cars, requiring an air brake test in accordance with either 49 C.F.R. Part 232 or 49 C.F.R. Part 238, except during switching operations or where the operation is that of classifying and assembling rail cars within a railroad yard for the purpose of making or breaking up trains.  “Train” includes a single locomotive, multiple locomotives coupled together, and one or more locomotives coupled with one or more cars.

     “Wayside detector system” means an electronic device or a series of connected devices that scan passing trains, rolling stock, on-track equipment, and their component equipment and parts for defects.

 

     2.    a.  The owner or operator of a dangerous hazardous train shall require a minimum of two crew members on all dangerous hazardous trains.  The owner or operator of a dangerous hazardous train shall further require that all dangerous hazardous trains clearly display the name of the railroad company that owns the dangerous hazardous train.

     b.    The owner or operator of a dangerous hazardous train shall not be required to provide a minimum of two crew members on a dangerous hazardous train if:

     (1)   the train is using a locomotive or a group of locomotives to assist another train that has incurred mechanical failure or lacks the power to traverse difficult terrain, including traveling to or from a location where assistance is provided;

     (2)   the train is a tourist, scenic, historic, or excursion operation that is not part of the general railroad system of transportation;

     (3)   the train is a locomotive not attached to railcars, is located inside a rail yard, and is being moved between tracks in order to keep the train organized and on schedule or is being moved to or from a maintenance shop; or

     (4)   the owner or operator is exempted from the two-person crew requirement by the Commissioner of Transportation due to having not more than 15 employees and operating a train at a maximum authorized speed of not more than 15 miles per hour.

     c.     Notwithstanding the exceptions listed in subsection b. of this section, the owner or operator of a dangerous hazardous train shall require a minimum of two crew members on a dangerous hazardous train when the dangerous hazardous train is transporting:

     (1)   one or more loaded freight cars containing any material poisonous by inhalation as defined in 49 C.F.R. s.171.8, including anhydrous ammonia (UN1005) and ammonia solutions (UN 3318); or

     (2)   10 or more loaded freight cars or freight cars loaded with bulk packaging as defined in 49 C.F.R. s.171.8 or intermodal portable tanks containing any combination of these materials or any Division 2.1 flammable gases as defined in 49 C.F.R. s.173.115(a), Class 3 flammable liquids as defined in 49 C.F.R. s.173.120(a), Class 1 explosives categorized in Division 1.1 or 1.2 as such terms are defined in 49 C.F.R. s.173.50, or hazardous substances listed in 49 C.F.R. s.173.31(f)(2).

     3.    a.  A railroad company, including a short line, operating within this State on any main line or branch line shall not operate, or permit to be operated, on any part of a main line or branch line, any train which exceeds 8,500 feet in length.

     b.    Notwithstanding section 4 of P.L.    , c.     (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill):

     (1)   a person or railroad violating any provision of this section shall be liable for a civil penalty.  Any civil penalty imposed may be collected, and any costs incurred in connection therewith may be recovered, in a summary proceeding pursuant to the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999,” P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).  The Superior Court shall have jurisdiction to enforce the “Penalty Enforcement Law of 1999,” P.L.1999, c.274 (C.2A:58-10 et seq.).

     (2)   the amount of the civil penalty shall be at least $500 but not more than $1,000 per foot exceeding the maximum train length provided in subsection a. of this section; provided that, when a grossly negligent violation or a pattern of repeated violations has caused an imminent hazard of death or injury to individuals or has caused death or injury, the amount of the civil penalty shall not be more than $250,000, regardless of the length of the train.

 

     4.    Except as provided in section 3 of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill), the provisions of P.L.    , c.     (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall not apply to the owner or operator of a Class III carrier, as defined by the Surface Transportation Board pursuant to 49 C.F.R. Part 1201 1-1, that operates within a single municipality on not more than 25 total track miles and is engaged in switching or terminal railroad services.  Nothing contained herein shall be construed to exempt a major facility from the provisions of the “Spill Compensation and Control Act,” P.L.1976, c.141 (C.58:10-23.11 et seq.).

 

     5.    The owner or operator of each privately owned railroad shall submit a copy of the most recent bridge inspection report generated pursuant to the federal “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act,” Pub.L.114-94 for every bridge in this State owned by the railroad, or upon which the railroad is located, to the Commissioner of Transportation, the Governor and, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), the Legislature.

 

     6.    a.  The Board of Public Utilities in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Transportation shall work with each railroad company that operates a train in the State to ensure that wayside detector systems are installed and are operating along railroad tracks on which the railroad company operates and to ensure that such systems meet all of the following standards:

     (1)   the wayside detector systems are properly installed, maintained, repaired, and operational in accordance with the latest guidelines issued by the United States Department of Transportation, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Association of American Railroads;

     (2)   any expired, non-working, or outdated wayside detector system or component parts of a system are removed and replaced with new parts or an entirely new system that reflects the current best practices and standards of the industry;

     (3)   the railroad company has defined, written standards and training for its employees pertaining to wayside detector system defect alerts, the course of action that employees are required to take to respond to an alert, and appropriate monitoring and responses by the company if employees fail to take the required course of action; and

     (4)   the distance between wayside detector systems is appropriate when accounting for the natural terrain surrounding the railroad track on which the railroad operates and the safety of the trains, rolling stock, on-track equipment, operators, passengers, and persons and property in the vicinity of the railroad track so that if defects are detected, operators have sufficient time to:

     (a)   respond to the alerts projected by the wayside detector system;

     (b)   stop the train, rolling stock, or on-track equipment, if necessary; and

     (c)   make all necessary repairs or, if repair is impossible at the location, to remove the component parts or equipment that is defective.

     b.    If a railroad company refuses to work or otherwise cooperate with the board and the department in good faith in accordance with this section, the board and the department shall investigate the railroad company’s safety practices and standards.  The board and the department shall determine whether the company appears to be in compliance with federal railroad safety standards, as defined in 49 C.F.R. Part 209.

     c.     If the board and the department determine that a railroad company does not appear to be in compliance with the applicable federal standards pursuant to subsection b. of this section, the board and the department shall:

     (1)   make a report to the Federal Railroad Administration within 60 days of making the determination pursuant to subsection b. of this section.  The report shall detail the results of the investigation and recommend that the administration take enforcement action against the railroad company in accordance with its authority for the safety violations discovered through the investigation; and

     (2)   send a copy of the report to the Governor and, pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1991, c.164 (C.52:14-19.1), to the Legislature.

 

     7.    All non-profit labor organizations representing a class or craft of employees of rail carriers or rail carrier contractor officials shall be permitted to enter onto railroad property to assist in inspecting for safety hazards and shall be permitted to identify alleged safety hazards, including any potential violation of a State regulation or a Federal Railroad Administration regulation.

 

     8.    The New Jersey Department of Transportation shall assist non-profit labor organizations representing a class or craft of employees of rail carriers or rail carrier contractors and local emergency services providers to apply for federal infrastructure safety grants, including grants available under the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program pursuant to 49 U.S.C. s.22907 and any “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022,” Pub.L.117-169 program that may provide funding for these applicants.

 

     9.    a.  The Department of Transportation shall adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), to effectuate the purposes of sections 2 through 5 and sections 7 and 8 of this act within 18 months after the effective date of this act.

     b.    The Board of Public Utilities in conjunction with the Department of Transportation shall adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), to effectuate the purposes of section 6 of this act within 18 months after the effective date of this act.

 

     10. If any provision of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity shall not affect any other provision or application of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill) are severable.

 

     11.  This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill provides certain requirements concerning railroad safety. 

     Under the bill, the owner or operator of a dangerous hazardous train is to require at least a two-person crew on all dangerous hazardous trains.  The owner or operator of a dangerous hazardous train is to further require that all dangerous hazardous trains clearly display the name of the railroad company that owns the dangerous hazardous train.  The bill provides for certain exceptions to the two-person crew requirement, including: when a train is performing helper service; when a train is a tourist, scenic, historic, or excursion operation that is not part of the general railroad system of transportation; when a train is a locomotive that is not attached to railcars, is located inside a rail yard, and is being moved between tracks or moved to or from a maintenance shop; and when the owner or operator has been exempted from the two-person crew requirement by the Commissioner of Transportation.  However, the bill specifies that the two-person crew requirement is mandatory when a train is transporting one or more loaded freight cars containing any material poisonous by inhalation or transporting 10 or more loaded freight cars or freight cars loaded with bulk packages or containing certain hazardous materials.

     The bill also prohibits a railroad company, including a short line, from operating any train that exceeds 8,500 feet in length on any main line or branch line within the State.  Any person or railroad company that violates this maximum length is liable for a civil penalty of at least $500 but not more than $1,000 per foot exceeding the maximum train length allowed under the bill.  The maximum penalty allowed is $250,000 in instances of gross negligence or a pattern of repeated violations that cause an imminent hazard of death or injury or that have caused death or injury, regardless of train length.

     The owner or operator of a privately owned railroad is required to submit a copy of federally required bridge inspection reports to the Commissioner of Transportation, the Governor, and the Legislature.

     Under the bill, the Board of Public Utilities (board), in conjunction with Department of Transportation (DOT), is required to work with each railroad company that operates in the State to ensure that wayside detector systems are installed and are operating along railroad tracks on which the railroad company operates and to ensure that such systems meet certain standards.  If a railroad company refuses to work or otherwise cooperate with the board and the DOT in good faith, the board and the DOT are required to investigate the railroad company’s safety practices and standards to determine whether the company appears to be in compliance with federal railroad safety standards.  If the railroad company does not appear to be in compliance, the board and the DOT are then required to make a report to the Federal Railroad Administration (administration), within 60 days after this determination, detailing the results of the investigation and recommending that the administration take enforcement action against the railroad company. The bill requires the board and the DOT to send a copy of the report to the Governor and Legislature.

     The bill requires that all non-profit labor organizations representing a class or craft of employees of rail carriers or rail carrier contractor officials (non-profit labor organizations) be permitted onto railroad property to assist in inspecting for safety hazards and are permitted to identify any alleged safety hazards.

     Finally, the bill requires the DOT to work with non-profit labor organizations and local emergency response service providers to apply for federal grants.

     With the exception of the maximum length provisions of the bill, this bill does not apply to certain Class III carriers as defined by the Surface Transportation Board.