By April 18, 2015 Read More →

Oil by rail trains told to slow down by US transportation officials

Railroads also asked to more closely inspect oil by rail trains

U.S. federal transportation officials said Friday they’re taking a series of steps to improve the safety of oil by rail trains hauling flammable liquids, including an emergency order limiting train speeds to no more than 40 mph in “high impact” urban areas.

oil by rail trains

Oil by rail trains coming under much closer scrutiny from American regulator.

Among other steps announced Friday by the Department of Transportation is a warning to railroads to use the latest technology to check for flaws in train wheels. The DOT said that the preliminary investigation of a recent derailment showed that a mechanical defect involving a broken tank car wheel may have caused or contributed to the incident.

The Federal Railroad Administration is now recommending that only the highest skilled inspectors conduct brake and mechanical inspections of oil by rail trains transporting large quantities of flammable liquids, and that industry decrease the threshold for wayside detectors that measure wheel impacts, to ensure the wheel integrity of tank cars in those trains.

Major freight railroads are already limiting oil by rail trains to no more 40 mph in urban areas under a voluntary agreement, but the order makes that a requirement and extends it to trains carrying other flammable liquids like ethanol.

“Taking the opportunity to review safety steps and to refresh information before moving forward is a standard safety practice in many industries and we expect the shipping and carrier industries to do the same,” said Acting FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg.

oil by rail trains

Acting FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg.

There have been dozens of fiery crashes over the past decade involving oil by rail trains in the U.S. and Canada. Since 2013 there have been 23 crude-related train accidents in the United States alone, with the majority of incidents occurring without the release of any crude oil product, according to the DOT.

“The boom in crude oil production, and transportation of that crude, poses a serious threat to public safety,” stated U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

“The measures we are announcing today are a result of lessons learned from recent accidents and are steps we are able to take today to improve safety. Our efforts in partnership with agencies throughout this Administration show that this is more than a transportation issue, and we are not done yet.”


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