Tank car

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced its comprehensive proposed rulemaking to improve the safe transport of large quantities of flammable materials by rail.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposes improved tank car standards, a classification and testing programme for mined gases and liquids and new operational requirements for high-hazard flammable trains (HHFT), which include braking controls and speed restrictions.

"Today’s proposal represents our most significant progress yet in developing and enforcing new rules to ensure that all flammable liquids are transported safely."

HHFT is described as a train carrying 20 or more tank carloads of flammable liquids, such as crude oil and ethanol.

It will be operated with either electronic controlled pneumatic brakes, a two-way end of train device or distributed power at a restricted speed of 40mph.

NPRM also plans to phase out older DoT 111 tank cars that do not meet the new design standards for transporting Packing Group I flammable liquids.

US DoT Secretary Anthony Foxx said: "Safety is our top priority, which is why I’ve worked aggressively to improve the safe transport of crude oil and other hazardous materials since my first week in office.

"While we have made unprecedented progress through voluntary agreements and emergency orders, today’s proposal represents our most significant progress yet in developing and enforcing new rules to ensure that all flammable liquids, including Bakken crude and ethanol, are transported safely."

The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking looks to expand comprehensive oil spill response planning requirements for shipments of flammable materials.


Image: US DoT proposes the phase out of the use of older DoT 111 tank cars for the shipment of Packing Group I flammable liquids. Photo: courtesy of Roy Luck.