Train safety regulation repealed during Trump administration

In 2018, the Department of Transport abolished a mandate requiring safer braking systems for trains carrying hazardous materials.

On February 3, nearly 50 train cars, including some carrying dangerous materials, derailed in a violent collision in East Palestine, Ohio. After the accident, officials conducted a controlled burnout of some of the train carriages to prevent the possibility of exploding a toxic chemical called vinyl chloride on the train.

Thousands of residents had to be temporarily evacuated because of smoke-related health concerns. The cause of the derailment has yet to be determined and an investigation is ongoing.

More than a week after the accident, US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg posted a Twitter thread about the work that the Department of Transport is currently doing to make trains safer. In one of the tweets, Buttigieg declare A railroad safety regulation related to brakes was withdrawn by the Trump administration in 2018 due to a law passed by Congress in 2015. Some others on Twitter share similar complain.

VERIFY Viewer Martha recently emailed our team to ask if these claims are true.


Does the Ministry of Transport abolish train safety regulations in 2018?



This is the truth.

Yes, the Department of Transportation repealed a training safety rule in 2018.


The Department of Transportation (DOT) repealed a train safety rule in 2018 requiring the installation of electronically controlled pneumatic braking (ECP) systems on trains carrying hazardous flammable materials, including including crude oil.

Most trains in the world are equipped with a pneumatic brake system that uses compressed air to stop individual carriages. The ECP brake system, which uses an electronic signal to apply and release the brakes simultaneously throughout the length of the train, was introduced to overcome the disadvantages of the air brake system on long freight trains.

“Train stops shorter with ECP brakes and everything happens simultaneously. Steven Ditmeyer, former director of research and development at the Federal Railroad Administration, told VERIFY’s partner station WFMY.

John Risch, national legislative director of the Transport, Aviation, Rail and Transportation Workers Union (SMART), wrote that “ECP braking is the greatest safety advancement I have seen in my 40 years of work. railway jobs.”

“The ECP brake system slows and stops trains up to 70 percent faster than conventional brakes and is the safest, most advanced train braking system in the world,” said Risch.

In December 2015, President Barack Obama signed into law the US Surface Vehicle Repair Act (FAST) following a number of famous train derailments in the United States and Canada.

The FAST Act includes a provision requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and other researchers to review the ECP brake rule following complaints from railroad companies and lobbyists, including the American Railroad Association.

The GAO report found errors in the DOT’s estimate of the potential business benefits of ECP braking, including reduced fuel consumption, reduced wheel wear and improved operational efficiency. After the GAO published its findings, DOT performed a revised cost-benefit analysis, determining that the benefits of ECP brakes did not outweigh the costs of implementing them. On September 25, 2018, the DOT issued its final rule to remove the ECP brake rule from the FAST Act.

Months after the repeal, the Associated Press published a study showing that the DOT analysis overlooked up to $117 million in estimated future damages from train derailments that could have been avoided by using the brakes. electronic.

As a result of the AP study, the DOT issued a technical correction in January 2019 but maintained the costs outweigh the benefits of the ECP brake rule, according to the University’s Energy & Environmental Law Program study at Harvard.

The Biden administration has not reinstated the ECP brake rule. In the recent Buttigieg Twitter threadhe implied that the DOT is legally restricted from re-enacting mandates.

“I am always ready to work with Congress to strengthen (or in some cases restore) our ability to address rail safety issues,” he said. Buttigieg tweeted.

In a February 14 press release, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the lead investigator on the Ohio train derailment, said investigators had inspected the train carriage that caused the crash. accident on February 3.

Surveillance video from a home shows what appears to be a wheel bearing in the final stages of overheating before derailment, the NTSB said. Overheated wheel hubs and bearings are currently being inspected by NTSB engineers.

In an email, a spokesperson for the NTSB told VERIFY the train involved in the Ohio derailment was not equipped with ECP brakes. On February 16, NTSB president Jennifer Homendy addressed the misinformation that was circulating about the derailment on Twitter.

family direct admission that the ECP brake rule would not prevent a collision if implemented because the train that derailed in East Palestine was a mixed freight train containing only three carriages of Class 3 flammable liquids with signs. Homendy said the ECP brake rule would only apply to high-risk combustible trains.

“This means that even if the rule goes into effect, this train will not have ECP brakes.” Homendy he said.

The Federal Railroad Administration says it is continuing to evaluate the potential use of ECP brakes to improve braking performance and rail safety, such as studying the potential development of assistive technologies. other to support adoption.

“Pending the outcome of the NTSB’s investigation, the FRA stands ready to use its full powers to ensure accountability and promote safety,” a spokesman for the Federal Railroad Administration said. VERIFY.

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Text: 202-410-8808 Train safety regulation repealed during Trump administration

Edmuns DeMars

Edmund DeMarche is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Edmund DeMarche joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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