Following the passage out of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of Senate Bill 2016, a bipartisan surface transportation bill that would authorize $78 billion over five years, the Rail Security Alliance has thanked Congressional leaders for prioritizing the security of the United States freight rail industry in the legislation.
The surface transportation bill was introduced by U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), with Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) sponsoring an amendment to the bill, the Stopping America’s Foreign Enemies Through Rail and Infrastructure National Security (SAFE TRAINS) Act. The Senate Commerce Committee has now passed the bill in a vote of 25-3, keeping the SAFE TRAINS Act in the bill through markup.
The SAFE TRAINS Act includes key provisions that protect the national and economic security of the U.S. by ensuring freight railcars are manufactured and built in North America, not by state-owned enterprises (SOE), as has happened in the domestic passenger rail market. The SAFE TRAINS Act mirrors legislative language included in the INVEST in America Act that recently passed out of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.
Chinese state-owned enterprises, including CRRC, are at the forefront of the China military-civil fusion strategy and have been identified on a Department of Defense list of companies backed and supported by the Chinese military. The Rail Security Alliance also points to reports that the state-backed company uses forced child and Uighur labor in its supply chains.
CRRC has made inroads in the domestic passenger rail market by underbidding on railcar manufacturing contracts for transit agencies from Los Angeles to Boston, reaping $2.6 billion in contracts, with the majority of funding coming from taxpayer dollars. The SAFE TRAINS Act prevents this kind of activity in the U.S. freight rail market.