US, Canada Unveil New Crude-By-Rail Rule
With an emphasis on enhanced tank car construction and braking standards, US and Canadian transportation officials have released a new rule to boost the safety of crude by rail in North America.
“Our close collaboration with Canada on new tank car standards is recognition that the trains moving unprecedented amounts of crude by rail are not US or Canadian tank cars—they are part of a North American fleet and a shared safety challenge,” said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
The rule is a protracted reaction to an increase in crude oil incidents. Two years ago, an oil train explosion in Quebec killed 47 people and significantly increased the issue’s profile. In 2014, federal US data showed the highest number of crude by rail incidents at 141 unintentional releases, the highest since the agency began gathering data 40 years ago.
The rule applies specifically to “high hazard flammable trains,” or HHFTs, which includes a “continuous block of 20 or more tank cars loaded with a flammable liquid or 35 or more tank cars loaded with a flammable liquid dispersed through a train.”
Among the new guidelines:
- The speed for all HHFTs is reduced to 50 mph, and those tank cars that don’t meet the enhanced standards are restricted to 40 mph in urban areas
- New cars stipulate a 9/16-in. shell and top-fitting protection, and a 7/16-in. shell without top-fittings for those currently in circulation
- Implementation of electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes