By Mark Abrams
PAULSBORO, N.J. (CBS) — In the wake of the Paulsboro train derailment, South Jersey Congressman Rob Andrews is suggesting the federal government may need to take a more direct role in rail-bridge safety.
Congressman Andrews says while it’s too soon to say whether the condition of the Conrail bridge played a role in the accident, it is known that the Federal Railroad Administration no longer inspects such bridges – especially ones with a history of issues – and leaves it to the owners to identify defects or problems.
“Self-reporting isn’t working here,” Andrews says. “I do think we have to look at authority for some federal agency, I would think the FRA, to inspect these bridges on a regular basis and not just take the owner’s word for it.”
Andrews also says federal investigators are examining why the train’s engineer and a dispatcher agreed — even after seeing a red light posted for the bridge — that it was safe for the train to cross.
“What is the value of the red-light warning system if people are going to ignore it,” Andrews says. Was the conductor who walked the bridge qualified to draw any conclusions?”
Andrews says if it takes legislation or other actions to prevent something like this from happening again, he’ll support it.