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Greenbrier responds to PHMSA's notice of proposed rulemaking for safer tank cars

The Greenbrier Cos. Inc. yesterday filed comments in response to the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration's (PHMSA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding safer tank car designs.

For starters, Greenbrier supports PHMSA's proposed "Option 2" design for new tank cars built after Oct. 1, 2015, that will operate in flammable service. Greenbrier's proposed "Tank Car of the Future" would meet the specifications by featuring a 9/16-inch-thick steel tank shell, more robust top and bottom outlet protection, and jacketed shells with thermal protection.

The new design features combine to inhibit discharge of contents during a derailment to reduce penetration of the tank shell and slow "pool fires" that can result when hazardous contents of a tank car escape and are ignited, according to a press release. The new design also will feature a loading capacity of 30,000 gallons, equal in volume to the legacy DOT-111 tank cars. Greenbrier plans to double its production capacity for new tank cars over the next 12 months to meet surging demand.

"The design for a safer tank car is known, materials are available and customers are now ordering tank cars built to the safest design standard," said Greenbrier Chairman and Chief Executive Officer William Furman in a prepared statement. "It is now PHMSA's time to act by issuing a substantial and workable final rule."

Meanwhile, GBW Railcar Services L.L.C. — a rail-car repair and retrofitting joint venture the Greenbrier recently launched with Watco Cos. L.L.C. — also submitted comments that endorse PHMSA's timeline for retrofitting by 2020 all existing tank cars operating in flammable service, currently estimated at 98,000 units. The company noted its plans to invest in four streamlined facilities to help achieve those targets.

GBW plans to retrofit designs for the DOT-111 tank cars to include optimally sized pressure-relief valves, head shields, top fittings protection, thermal protection and shell jackets with thicker metal for tank car exteriors. GBW also offers retrofit alternatives for the most recently built CPC-1232 tank cars, such as enhancements to the bottom outlet valve and pressure-relief valves that will reduce the likelihood of tank cars releasing contents in derailments, according to a press release.

Greenbrier and GBW's full comments are available at The comments are in addition to those Greenbrier previously filed earlier this month as part of the counterpart regulator process now under way by Transport Canada.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/30/2014