When former US President Donald Trump was in office, he made it a point to repeal, withdraw, or delay over a dozen transportation safety rules. He believed that these regulations unnecessarily restrained economic growth.
An Associated Press News analysis from 2018 found that regulations Trump sidelined would have, “among other things, required states to conduct annual inspections of commercial bus operators, railroads to operate trains with at least two crew members and automakers to equip future cars and light trucks with vehicle-to-vehicle communications to prevent collisions.” The publication also noted that these rules were already written in blood, or prompted by accidents and tragic events.
Interestingly, one other rule that was sidelined in 2017 was the requirement for trains carrying hazardous flammable materials to have Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) brakes, a rule that was passed when President Barack Obama was in office.
Lo and behold, the National Transportation Safety Board found that the train that derailed in Ohio did not have ECP brakes.
If this rule was still in place, the derailment of a 150-car train carrying hazardous material in East Palestine in Ohio would’ve probably been less severe, according to a report by The Lever, which cited Steven Ditmeyer, a former top official at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
Like many of the sidelined transportation safety rules, the industry was opposed to the ECP brake rule. It would’ve cost them more than $3 billion to implement.
“The railroads will test new features. But once they are told they have to do it … they don’t want to spend the money,” Ditmeyer said. Now under a new administration, regulators have yet to put many of the sidelined rules back in place mostly because of this reason.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has been blaming the Trump administration for the Ohio train derailment, has not proposed the reinstatement of the ECP brake rule, but the FRA has said that it was continuing its evaluation of ECP brakes to improve safety.
Information for this briefing was found via AP News, Newsweek, Daily Mail, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.