BlueGreen Alliance | Governor Polis Signs New Colorado Railroad Safety Regulations into Law

Governor Polis Signs New Colorado Railroad Safety Regulations into Law

May 13, 2024

Late last week, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed HB24-1030, called the “Railroad Safety Requirements Bill,” into law. The new law requires rail companies to improve safety training, incident data, and emergency response protocols. The law will also establish Colorado’s first Office of Rail Safety and Rail Safety Advisory Committee to increase train inspection capacity and data reporting to hold railroad companies accountable to ensuring the safety of workers and communities. 

“Train derailments and obstruction accidents have increased and we must protect the safety of workers and our communities, particularly as we move to expand passenger rail,” said Colorado State Sen. Lisa Cutter (D-20). “Hazardous materials are frequently moved by rail through heavily forested areas or near critical waterways, so an accident has the potential to be catastrophic. This bill will create an Office of Rail Safety, so we can oversee rail operations and collect data to help address the real safety issues we know are plaguing the rail industry.” 

“Train derailments can be life or death for workers and communities if hazardous cargo spills and contaminates the air, soil, and water,” said Renée Larrarte, Climate and Transportation Campaign Manager for Conservation Colorado. “Rail safety is imperative to reducing environmental impacts and protecting the people of Colorado and our beautiful natural resources. This new law prevents disasters and keeps us all safe.” 

“As we work toward expanding passenger rail in Colorado, we need to ensure our railways are safe,” said Colorado State Rep. Javier Mabrey (D-1). “We know train derailments can be incredibly destructive and dangerous, which is why we’re working toward ways to ramp up Colorado’s rail safety measures. This law establishes the Office of Rail Safety to oversee rail operations, collect data and create safer railways for us all.” 

“Rail safety is vital for Colorado’s workers and communities,” said Carl Smith, Colorado State Legislative Director for Sheet Metal Air Rail and Transportation (SMART-TD). “This is a great first step as we continue advancing rail safety throughout the state.” 

“This victory would not have happened without the hard work of our coalition partners across labor and environmental advocacy that fought for the safety of communities and workers throughout the 2024 legislative session,” said Elena Santarella, Colorado Policy Organizer for the BlueGreen Alliance. “Railroads are a vital form of transportation, and safety is a paramount concern as Colorado continues to invest in the expansion of rail. We thank the bill sponsors for their leadership on this important issue and Governor Polis for his support of HB24-1030.”