It is important to have harmonization in regulations because trains travel between the two countries. If they don’t align, the country with the more stringent regulations will become the industry rule, underlines Thomas Simpson, President of the Railway Supply Institute (RSI). (Photo: Markku Björkman)
TransportCanada has previously adopted new regulations for the transportation of dangerous goods
Regulations relating to the rail transport for crude oil, ethanol and other flammable liquids are hot themes in the industry and are going to change. Thomas Simpson, President of the Railway Supply Institute (RSI) told about the changes in supply for the North American tank car fleet, during National Ethanol Conference in Dallas in February 2015.
According to Thomas Simpson some high-profile derailments occurred during the last six years, which tank cars caught fire and the whole trains derailed as result of that.
Railway Supply Institute, RSI, is the international trade association for the rail supply industry, representing the nation’s leading companies involved in the manufacture of products and services in the freight car, tank car, locomotive, maintenance-of-way, communications and signaling, and passenger rail industries. The RSI Committee on Tank Cars (RSICTC) is focused on increasing safety of rail tank cars.
The membership of the RSICTC includes major manufacturers and lessors of rail tank cars who build more than 95 percent and own or lease over 70 percent of tank cars operating in North America. GE Capital, Rail Services is a member of RSI and participates in the RSICTC.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) came to the industry (through the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Tank Car Committee) and asked us to consider designing a new tank car to reduce risk.
- The Committee recommended a new design, which is referred to as CPC-1232. In 2011, the AAR petitioned the DOT to adopt the new standard as federal regulation; however the DOT did not act on that recommendation. The industry adopted the new standards on a voluntary basis for crude and ethanol, and continued to urge the DOT to formally adopt new standards, said Simpson.
He recalled that in 2013, a derailment in Lac Megantic, Quebec killed 47 people and destroyed part of the resort town, bringing more urgency to the issue. TransportCanada then issued interim rules and directives on, among other things, tank cars and the US DOT issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rule Making (ANPRM).
In July, TransportCanada adopted new regulations for the transportation of dangerous goods, including crude oil and ethanol. They are currently considering amendments to these regulations based on industry proposals and discussions with PHMSA in the US. In the US, a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) and an additional ANPRM were released on Aug. 1, 2014, and comments were due Sept. 30, 2014.
- We expect to see new regulations in the US by the first half of 2015. We also expect the regulations to be settled in Canada by that time, explained Simpson.
The RSICTC immediately started to analyze the new proposals and on Dec. 5, RSI responded with comprehensive recommendations to the ANPRM.
- We submitted additional detailed comments to TransportCanada on Sept. 1 and to the DOT’s NPRM on Sept. 30. Our comments are very comprehensive and include economic information, engineering analysis and a survey of the industry to understand the feasibility of design changes for new and modified tank cars. We’ve also been meeting with the AAR and shippers, who were also doing their due diligence to determine their position on the varying issues, explained Thomas Simpson.
He recommends US and Canadian governments to take a complete approach, focusing not only on tank car design but also accident prevention, including railroad policies and operations and proper classification of commodities being shipped. RSICTC supports a commodity-based approach for determining which cars should be modified, instead of an approach that is based on the make-up of a train.
Source: Railway Supply Institute (RSI)
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