Senators Seek Rail Safety Funding in Aftermath of Metro Crash

Mere hours after the Washington Metro system suffered a shocking accident, two senior senators released a letter to their colleagues asking for $50 million in grants to improve rail safety technology.

23crash2_600.jpgThe scene of yesterday's D.C. Metro crash. (Photo: NYT)

The letter was sent by two chairmen with a central role in transportation policy -- commerce committee chief Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and environment committee chief Barbara Boxer (D-CA) -- to the two senators who shepherd the annual transportation budget, Patty Murray (D-WA) and Kit Bond (R-MO).

Rockefeller and Boxer noted that a $50 million investment in technology improvement grants was authorized last year when Congress passed a new rail safety law. That law favored rail safety upgrades that implemented "positive train control," a computerized program to prevent crashes that safety experts said might have averted last year's deadly California Metrolink crash.

As Rockefeller and Boxer wrote to their fellow senators:

More commuters are turning to commuter rail today than ever before. In these tough economic times, with many commuter rail agencies facing budget cuts, funding for the railroad safety technology grants is vital to ensure that important safety measures continue to be implemented.