Senate Approves Proposal Aimed at Improving Safety Along Railroads

HARRISBURG – The Senate unanimously approved a measure sponsored by Senator David G. Argall (R-29) that would add railroad materials into the state’s Scrap Material Theft Prevention Act on Tuesday afternoon.

Senate Bill 1077 would add several railroad materials to the list of items that a scrap processor or recycling facility may purchase strictly from a commercial entity, not an individual.

“The tragedy that occurred in New York over the weekend reaffirms that we must exercise extreme caution with our railroads,” Argall said. “After hearing about the rise of railroad theft across the state, I knew the state had to act to keep our railroads safe in Pennsylvania. Can you imagine the deadly harm a stolen rail or warning sign could cause to the public?  I’m hopeful this further deters criminals from stealing railroad property across the state and improves safety.

Railroad materials, as defined in Argall’s proposal, includes crossing signals, spikes, track and other materials specifically used by railroads.

Currently, scrap processors are required to obtain a photocopy of the seller’s driver’s license, a signature from both buyer and seller, the license plate number of the vehicle belonging to the seller, as well as the date, time and description of the transaction if the materials are valued over $100.

Pennsylvania’s law also states that certain items, including beer kegs, detached catalytic converters, metallic wire valued more than $100, and several construction-related materials, are only allowed to be sold to a scrap processor through a commercial entity. Argall’s bill would add railroad materials to that list.

Argall was asked by Reading and Northern Railroad, a local railroad based out of Port Clinton in Schuylkill County, to introduce a proposal aimed at curbing this illegal behavior.

“When the Reading and Northern Railroad brought this serious safety issue to my attention at one of my town hall meetings, I knew we had to find a way to crack down on this illegal behavior before there is a serious injury,” Argall said.

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