Monday, March 16, 2015

Railroads ask White House to not require advanced braking system on oil trains

"The U.S. rail industry is pushing the White House to drop a requirement that oil trains adopt an advanced braking system, a cornerstone of a national safety plan that will soon govern shipments of crude across the country," Valerie Volcovici and Patrick Rucker report for Reuters. (McClatchy graphic)

More oil was spilled from trains in the U.S. in 2013 than in the previous 37 years, and 47 people in Quebec died from the derailment of a train running from North Dakota to Maine. There has also been a recent rash of derailments, which led Canada to propose rules to toughen tank-car standards. The U.S. Department of Transportation in October 2014 proposed a two-year phase-out of older tank cars, but the oil and rail industries said that wasn't enough time. 

"Representatives of large rail operators met with White House officials last week to argue against the need for electronically controlled pneumatic brakes, or ECP brakes, saying they "would not have significant safety benefits" and 'would be extremely costly,' according to a handout from the meeting," Volcovici and Rucker write. "ECP brakes trigger all axles simultaneously rather than one at a time in current design."

"The industry claims fitting rail stock with ECP brakes would not prevent accidents, but merely limit the number of cars that derail in an accident," Volcovici and Rucker write. "Adopting the new technology would lead to more frequent service problems and mechanical delays, industry officials said." (Read more)

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