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8/12/2013



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Quebec accident fallout: Sen. Schumer again calls on USDOT to require retrofit or phase-out of 'flawed' tank cars


While standing near a CSX Transportation line that runs through Kingston, N.Y., Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Aug. 7 reiterated his plea to the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to require a retrofit or phase-out of "DOT-111" tank cars.

The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, and increasing shipments of crude oil along New York railways show there should be a corresponding increase in rail safety measures implemented through Federal Railroad Administration and Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration regulatory processes, said Schumer in a press release.

DOT-111 tank cars have proven to be flawed, out of date and a factor in hazardous material spills during derailments, he said, adding that the National Transportation Safety Board has cited the car's design as a major factor in a CN haz-mat accident that occurred in Cherry Valley, Ill., in 2009.

CSX is spending $26 million over the next two to three years to add 18 miles of second track along the Hudson River line between Albany and northern New Jersey to handle projected traffic growth, including crude-oil shipments. Currently, the Class I's lines through Kingston accommodate about 100 to 200 DOT-111 cars carrying crude oil each day, Schumer said.

Increased movements of crude along CSX lines in the Hudson Valley will benefit regional and state economies, but pose a risk like the Lac-Mégantic accident that must be minimized, said Schumer. Overall, more trains are carrying crude across North America than ever before: nearly 1,400 carloads a day versus just 31 in 2009, he said.

"I am urging the [USDOT] to start phasing out older tank cars, particularly because they are thought to increase the damage that ensues after a derailment," said Schumer. "This is not to demonize freight rail or the significant economic activity the increased shipments mean ... but we have to protect that investment by limiting the risk for major damage in the event of a derailment."



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