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Rail News: Safety

Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf asks CSX, NS to act on crude-by-rail safety


Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is asking CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway to join BNSF Railway Co. in adopting new, tougher crude-by-rail safety measures for rail cars moving through Pennsylvania.

In letters to CSX and NS officials, Wolf wrote of his "continuing concern about the risks of a crude-by-rail derailment, tank car break and subsequent explosion that could potentially occur on our current rail lines."

Each week, railroads carry a large volume of Bakken crude oil across the state, Wolf noted. He cited four recent derailments in other states that involved the new generation CPC-1232 tank cars, and all four occurred at speeds below the industry's voluntary 40 mph restriction.

Wolf also cited several of BNSF's voluntary safety measures, such as lowering speeds to 35 mph for all crude-oil trains traveling through cities with populations of more than 100,000; increased rail detection testing frequency along waterways; increased hot box detectors (HBD) on all crude routes that parallel critical waterways; mandatory set-out of all HBD-indicated cars on key trains stopped by HBD; and immediate set-out of all cars on key trains that exceed Level II wheel impact load detector (WILD) defects to be handled as a Level I defect.

Wolf's letter follows the release of the U.S. Department of Transportation's new final rule to improve crude-by-rail safety. He asks CSX and NS to not only meet the standards that BNSF has voluntarily adopted, but to "expeditiously comply" with the USDOT rule.

"I will closely follow the status of your compliance with the Federal Rule and would like to discuss your willingness to adopt the BNSF additional safety measures," Wolf wrote.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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