EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio’s two US senators are hoping a measure aimed at making the nation’s railways safer will receive quick approval on Capitol Hill.

Senators Sherrod Brown and J-D Vance have proposed the Railroad Safety Act in the wake of the February 3 train derailment and fire in East Palestine.

Among other provisions, the measure would significantly increase fines for rail companies that violate regulations.

“When you have a terrible train accident, it’s basically a slap on the wrist for the local railways. I think increasing those fines will actually promote safety among the railways and make this stuff less likely and also protect communities like East Palestine,” Vance said.

“The fines they’ve been assessed have averaged about $10,000. These are multi-billion-dollar companies and $10,000 doesn’t mean anything, so we’re increasing the fines dramatically in the Brown-Vance Bill,” Brown said.

Senate leaders have already promised to do what they can to see the bill passed into law quickly.

President Joe Biden released a statement on Thursday about the measure, saying he applauds the bipartisan group of senators who proposed the legislation.

“This legislation strengthens safety requirements for all trains carrying hazardous materials, and phases in newer, safer tank cars over the next two years, not over the next decade. It will increase safety by requiring hotbox detectors every 10 miles to prevent derailments like the one that we saw in East Palestine. It increases HAZMAT fees for railroads to pay for grants to train state and local firefighters and other first responders to respond to hazmat incidents. The legislation will also dramatically increase fines for safety violations from the current cap of $225,000 to the greater of $1 million or 1% of a railroad’s annual operating income, which for the largest carriers like Norfolk Southern could be more than $50 million.

This bill will make important progress – and we need to do even more, like require state of the art braking systems, provide more funding for federal safety inspections, invest in worker safety, fortify state emergency management and response, and hold companies like Norfolk Southern accountable not just for the immediate damage, but also the long-term health and economic damage to communities like East Palestine.”

Biden said he encourages lawmakers to move quickly to advance the rail safety measures so he can sign a bill into law.