McAuliffe announces rail safety task force

newspaperGov. Terry McAuliffe announced that Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian J. Moran and Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne will co-chair the interagency Railroad Safety and Security Task Force, and that the panel will conduct its first meeting on June 4, 2014 at 1:00pm at the Virginia Emergency Operations Center in Chesterfield.

“This task force is an important step toward ensuring that Virginia is doing everything it can to keep our railroads and the communities around them safe, and that we are prepared to respond to incidents like the derailment and fire in Lynchburg earlier this month,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I have asked Secretaries Moran and Layne to bring our public safety, transportation and environmental protection agencies together to investigate what happened in Lynchburg and make recommendations of how Virginia can work with the federal government to keep our communities and our natural resources as safe as possible.”

The Railroad Safety and Security Task Force will include representatives from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), the Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP), the state corporation commission (SCC), the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and the Virginia State Police (VSP). The task force will solicit input from industry stakeholders, local governments and members of the public and produce a report of recommended state and federal actions to prevent railroad accidents and ensure that Virginia is prepared as possible to keep communities safe in the case of a future incident.

“Last month’s incident in Lynchburg could have been much worse, but local, state and federal responders worked together to keep the public safe and clean up the wreckage as soon as possible,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian J. Moran. “I want to thank Governor McAuliffe for forming this task force to ensure that every corner of Virginia is as prepared to act in the case of another accident as Lynchburg was, and that we are working with our federal partners to keep another incident like this from happening again.”

Secretary of Transportation Aubrey Layne continued, “Virginia’s railways are critical to the commerce and trade of the entire nation, and operating them safely should be priority one for the Commonwealth and our federal and industry partners. This task force is our opportunity to increase interagency cooperation, solicit public input and formulate recommendations to keep our railways and adjacent Virginia communities and resources as safe as possible.”

Governor McAuliffe announced his intention to form the Railroad Safety and Security Task Force earlier this month while touring the site of the April 30th train derailment and fire in downtown Lynchburg, VA.

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