Despite funding cuts, rail safety training necessary

May 26, 2015

Despite the threat of state funding cuts to Illinois railroads, lawmakers are urging an increase in safety programs for rail operators.

A bipartisan pair of legislators say safety training is too important to be squeezed out of railway budgets, no matter what they're given by the state.

They brought in Lou Jogmen, with the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, who says the state is especially at risk.

"Illinois remains in the higher realm of accidents and fatalities. Unfortunately, people aren't paying attention."

In March, a major train derailment near Galena caused a massive fire, and several hundred thousand gallons of oil to spill.  It's one of 10 oil train accidents in the last two years in the U.S.

Dozens of cities in Illinois have a rail line running through them, carrying anything from oil to chemicals to agricultural products.

The governor's proposed budget would cut passenger rail by $175 million in the next year, but Democrats have put forward their own budget, which would hold funding steady.