Thursday, July 30, 2015

Federal Railroad Administration releases rule to increase safety for trains left unattended

The Federal Railroad Administration released a new rule on Wednesday requiring "two qualified railroad employees to ensure that handbrakes and other safety equipment have been properly set on trains left unattended while carrying dangerous materials such as crude oil or ethanol," David Morgan reports for Reuters. The rule "is directed specifically at trains left parked on main lines, side tracks and in rail yards."

"The new rule also contains requirements that involve briefings for train crews, exterior locks on locomotives and the proper use of air brakes," Morgan writes. "It applies to trains carrying substances that can cause harm if inhaled and any train carrying 20 or more cars of 'high-hazard flammable materials.'"

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. The oil boom in areas such as North Dakota and Texas has led to a 4,000 percent increase in oil train shipments since 2008, leading the  U.S. Department of Transportation to issue tougher rules for tank cars.

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