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Welcome release of North American rail rules

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

New regulations that were released on May 1 by the US and Canada for the shipment of flammable liquids by rail should be carefully examined to ensure each element adds to the overall safety of the North American freight rail network, according to the API.

API President and CEO, Jack Gerard said, “as we review these rules, the key question is whether science and data show each change will make a meaningful improvement to safety. A thoughtful, comprehensive and data driven safety approach is critical to improving on the 99.997% safety record of freight rail to reach our goal of zero accidents. Tank cars and the industry’s work to educate first responders are two elements of the bigger picture. Accident investigations consistently show that more must also be done to prevent derailments by enhancing the inspection and maintenance of train tracks, axles and other railroad equipment.”

The inclusion of a requirement for electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes will add to the artificial constraints created by a timeline for retrofitting the existing tank car fleet that does not fully account for limited shop capacity available to complete the work.

Gerard continued, “the safety impact of ECP brakes is marginal at best. It is concerning that regulators did not select one of several alternative breaking technologies that have much clearer benefits for safety. We support upgrades to the tank car fleet and want them completed as quickly as realistically possible. The railcar manufacturing industry’s own calculations show it does not have the shop capacity to meet the retrofit timeline announced today, which will lead to shortages that impact consumers and the broader economy.”

Edited from press release by Claira Lloyd

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