(a) Submission of Plan.—
Not later than 6 months after the date of the enactment of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008, a rail passenger carrier shall submit to the Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, the Secretary of Transportation, and the Secretary of Homeland Security a plan for addressing the needs of the families of passengers involved in any rail passenger accident involving a rail passenger carrier intercity train and resulting in a major loss of life.
(b) Contents of Plans.—A plan to be submitted by a rail passenger carrier under subsection (a) shall include, at a minimum, the following:
A process by which a rail passenger carrier will maintain and provide to the National Transportation Safety Board, the Secretary of Transportation, and the Secretary of Homeland Security immediately upon request, a list (which is based on the best available information at the time of the request) of the names of the passengers aboard the train (whether or not such names have been verified), and will periodically update the list. The plan shall include a procedure, with respect to unreserved trains and passengers not holding reservations on other trains, for the rail passenger carrier to use reasonable efforts to ascertain the names of passengers aboard a train involved in an accident.
A plan for creating and publicizing a reliable, toll-free telephone number within 4 hours after such an accident occurs, and for providing staff, to handle calls from the families of the passengers.
(6) A process by which the family of each passenger will be consulted about the disposition of all remains and personal effects of the passenger within the control of the rail passenger carrier and by which any possession of the passenger within the control of the rail passenger carrier (regardless of its condition)—
will be retained by the rail passenger carrier for at least 18 months; and
An assurance that the rail passenger carrier will provide adequate training to the employees and agents of the carrier to meet the needs of survivors and family members following an accident.
(c) Use of Information.—
Neither the National Transportation Safety Board, the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Homeland Security, nor a rail passenger carrier may release to the public any personal information on a list obtained under subsection (b)(1), but may provide information on the list about a passenger to the passenger’s family members to the extent that the Board or a rail passenger carrier considers appropriate.
(d) Limitation on Statutory Construction.—
(1) Rail passenger carriers.—
(2) Investigational authority of board and secretary.—
Nothing in this section shall be construed to abridge the authority of the Board or the Secretary of Transportation to investigate the causes or circumstances of any rail accident, including the development of information regarding the nature of injuries sustained and the manner in which they were sustained, for the purpose of determining compliance with existing laws and regulations or identifying means of preventing similar injuries in the future.
(e) Limitation on Liability.—
A rail passenger carrier shall not be liable for damages in any action brought in a Federal or State court arising out of the performance of the rail passenger carrier in preparing or providing a passenger list, or in providing information concerning a train reservation, pursuant to a plan submitted by the rail passenger carrier under subsection (b), unless such liability was caused by conduct of the rail passenger carrier which was grossly negligent or which constituted intentional misconduct.
Out of funds appropriated pursuant to section 20117(a)(1)(A), there shall be made available to the Secretary of Transportation $500,000 for fiscal year 2010 to carry out this section. Amounts made available pursuant to this subsection shall remain available until expended.