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Politics

Mayfield, Sirois File Legislation to Improve Rail Safety

October 29, 2019 - 6:00am
In Boynton Beach, a Brightline train fatality, November 2017
In Boynton Beach, a Brightline train fatality, November 2017

Sen. Debbie Mayfield, R-Indialantic, and Rep. Tyler Sirois, R-Merritt Island, filed Monday the Florida High-Speed Passenger Rail Safety Act, SB 676 and HB 465, designed to promote and enhance the safe operation of high-speed passenger rail systems in Florida.

In a press statement Mayfield explained the legislation incorporates recommendations identified in a study commissioned by the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA), published Oct. 31, 2018. The study, titled the Florida Passenger Rail System Study, examined all existing and planned passenger rail systems in the state of Florida and identified key safety deficiencies within Florida’s passenger rail system.

Mayfield didn't expressly mention the some two dozen deaths from the Brightline/Virgin high-speed train on Florida East Coast Railway tracks since July 2017, but the deaths and plans for that passenger line to serve a Miami-Orlando route are what first focused her attention on rail safety.

“Florida has a fatality rate 3.5 times the national average,” Mayfield said.  “This is unacceptable and must be addressed if we are going to continue to encourage additional high-speed passenger trains.” 

Debbie Mayfield and Tyler Sirois
Debbie Mayfield and Tyler Sirois

This legislation is the foundation for implementing necessary actions by the Florida Department of Transportation based on the study’s recommendations to improve passenger rail operations and safety in Florida. It requires the state to exert its authority over the Federal Railroad Administration where necessary, to make certain rail corridors and railway operating equipment are safe and well-maintained, pedestrian and road crossings are gated, high-risk corridors are fenced, and local emergency-service providers are properly trained for increased risks resulting from high speed train accidents.

“Public safety is a core function of government. The tracks run close to schools, neighborhoods, businesses, and historic downtowns. While I support high speed rail, my constituents want it to be safe for commuters and pedestrians who travel along the U.S. 1 corridor on a daily basis. I am proud to join with Sen. Mayfield on this important legislation,” said Sirois.

“As we begin to explore various options for transportation throughout our state, our priority should be to ensure the safety of not only the passengers, but also of the citizens of the communities that will be impacted by these trains as they travel through our neighborhoods,” Mayfield said.

Comments

Here’s more on the NEVER-ENDING Florida “passenger train” MONEY-PIT.......BEWARE FLORIDIAN TAXPAYERS!!!!!

I get your frustration. But if brightlines /Virgin is allowed to continue to build without implementing safety regulations, you can bet the fencing and other safety measures that will be absolutely necessary will fall to the taxpayers to fund. This is supposed to be a private enterprise and I applaud Senator Mayfield for pushing legislation to force them to do it. They won't implement the safety features that have been identified unless they are mandated.

I get your frustration. But if bright lines last Virgin is allowed to continue to build without implementing safety regulations, you can bet the fencing and other safety measures that will be absolutely necessary will fall to the taxpayers to fund. This is supposed to be a private enterprise and I applaud Senator Mayfield for pushing legislation to force them to do it. They won't implement the safety features that have been identified unless they are mandated.

The U.S. totally missed the boat when the politicos blew off a national rail system and, instead, chose to go with a national highway system. Another one of the Republican party's major mistakes. The rail system throughout Europe is a good model of how it might have been here.

Au contraire Pierre. Individualism is the root of both freedom and economic success in America. Automobiles are better at preserving the individual's freedom to choose at any given moment to transport themselves to any destination of their choosing - in general, trains are worse. When travel time becomes a major issue, air travel becomes competitive - in general, train travel does not. But fret not my lost leftist friends. The age of self-driving, computer managed, publicly owned vehicles is near the horizon, and these will integrate well with group intrastate transport vehicles such as buses and trains. So the moral of the story is that when a transportation mode is best at preserving individualism, it will be adopted broadly. Until and unless it does, it will not - and rightly should not.

There are 1,183 fatalities from trains in Europe.

There were 1,096 fatalities in the U.S. from FRA-regulated railroads in 2018. If your number is right, the annual EU per capita rate is 1.6 per million population. The U.S. rate is around 3.4 per million, over twice as high..

Florida is NOT Europe; and hopefully NEVER will endeavor to emulate “overrun” Europe !

Robin Dreher's comment is--nothing personal here--simply beyond the ken of human understanding. Nothing is more important to our state's transportation needs than expanding passenger rail service. Sunrail in Orlando is a fine example of how valuable a properly-operated rail passenger service can be and to think or believe that "...rail is nearly useless for passengers in Florida..." is valid is being blind to what the truth is and what the facts are: the steel wheel on the steel rail is the most effective and most efficient mode of transportation--for passengers and freight--ever devised, and the ONLY reason that the railroads are so underused for passenger travel is and has been what was and is being done to cripple them through the public financing of every mode--road/air/waterway--of their competition while fiscally starving the railroads with absolutely nonsensical complaints by the public when government does try to spend money to improve rail service. We should have passenger rail to, through and between every major city in Florida and not having it continues to be a total and absolute crime.

"Sunrail in Orlando is a fine example of how valuable a properly-operated rail passenger service can be" Did you pull that one out of your ***? Here's just a single feature of your "fine example". The cost of SunRail to issue and collect tickets is greater than the revenue from ticket sales. https://mises.org/wire/floridas-government-built-train-%E2%80%94-and-it-didn%E2%80%99t-go-well

I think Seth H Bramson is busy strategizing how to best remove his foot from his mouth.

LOL

"Nothing is more important to our state's transportation needs than expanding passenger rail service" Perhaps the most egregiously false statement that could possibly be made on this topic. Pure hallucination.

Also, when he said "the steel wheel on the steel rail is the most effective and most efficient mode of transportation for passengers ever devised" I had to wonder if he was motivated by Auschwitz. Because in all other cases, it's simply a lie.

True. But the "crime" took place nearly 70 years ago - and it's probably too late (costly) to try to make-up for it today. (?)

As usual, they have it cockeyed. While public safety might be a "core function of government," so should common sense be and, as usual, their approach is to try to make the railroad companies responsible for the public's safety, which is ludicrous and nonsensical. When local government entities prohibit railroads from blowing their horns when approaching grade crossings, that, alone, is a criminal act by those whose job it is to work to eliminate criminal behavior and not to engage in it themselves, especially in Florida and specifically in South Florida where so many thoughtless, foolish people think that racing a train to try to beat it to a crossing or going around crossing gates or engaging in other nonsensical acts or actions vis-a-vis an oncoming train is perfectly acceptable. IT NEVER IS and nothing is more important than educating the public regarding the dangers of railroad tracks and oncoming trains. In fact, part of any new legislation should include MANDATORY classes by Operation Lifesaver to educate not only children and teenagers but the general public as to the hows and whys of safety around trains and railroad tracks.

What’s actually “beyond the ken” Seth, is political ignorance of the historically inherent & costly failure of “passenger” railroads.

In many cases it has been found that passenger rail service would lose less money if they removed the ticket selling infrastructure and didn't charge. If each ticket price had to reflect the real cost of service, nobody would ride.

Percentagewise, rail is nearly useless for passengers in Florida. It'a a great way to haul cargo, but not people.

Spot on comment, Robin!

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