| WASHINGTON, April 9
WASHINGTON, April 9 U.S. Transportation
Secretary Anthony Foxx on Wednesday asked oil-by-rail leaders to
create a tank car fit to carry the kinds of fuel involved in
recent fiery derailments even as he dodged lawmaker questions
about when such a plan would be ready.
Rail shipments of oil have been on the rise in regions that
lack sufficient pipelines such as North Dakota's Bakken energy
patch, where production is nearing 1 million barrels per day and
roughly 72 percent of that fuel moves on the tracks.
But several accidents saw the rail cargoes explode with
surprising force since summer, prompting demands for a tougher
tank car to carry the fuel.
Foxx said his agency was working hard to come up with a new
tank car design.
"My target date is as soon as possible," Foxx told a panel
of the Senate Appropriations Committee when asked when the new
standard would be ready.
The Department of Transportation is responsible for
mandating a new tank car design, but officials are counting on
input from industry.
The Association of American Railroads has gathered together
oil producers, shippers, tank car manufacturers and others to
try to design a tank car that will satisfy regulators.
But industry sources say compromise has been difficult among
stakeholders with different concerns such as costs and whether
an overly bulky model might limit cargoes.
Foxx wrote to association President Edward Hamberger on
Wednesday, encouraging the industry to continue its work and
update officials on progress soon.
Officials agree that the workhorse for oil-by-rail
deliveries, the model DOT-111, is the wrong container for fuel
shipments that are expected to climb in the years ahead.
Many shippers are phasing out DOT-111s in favor of a
toughened model known as version 1232, but officials have said
even that tank car needs design upgrades and a blessing from
"Even the railroad industry and the DOT have been talking
about going beyond the 1232," National Transportation Safety
Board chair Deborah Hersman told lawmakers. "We think that's
wise given the risk here."
A design favored by the railroad association would require
tank cars to be fitted with pressure relief valves, to sit
within a steel jacket and have larger shields at either end to
A further meeting of the tank car panel is scheduled for
Also on Wednesday, the Federal Railroad Administration said
that it intended to mandate a minimum of two-person crews on
most trains. The practice of having more than one crew member is
already an industry standard.
(Editing by Jonathan Oatis)