Lac Megantic Accident

The US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued new measures for US railroads to avoid accidents similar to the derailment of a runaway train carrying crude oil at Lac-Mégantic in Canada, which killed 47 people after it exploded in July 2013.

The new emergency order (EO) includes a series of measures to be followed by all railroads operating on the general system in a bid to avoid unintentional movement of unattended trains and vehicles on mainline track or mainline siding exterior of a yard or terminal.

FRA has asked all railroads to implement the measures within the next 30 days, mainly targeting trains that transport hazardous materials including crude oil and ethanol.

The agency’s latest order stipulates that trains carrying specified hazardous materials can only be left unattended on a mainline track or side track outside a yard or terminal only after being specifically authorised.

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"FRA has asked all railroads to implement the measures within the next 30 days."

The new order seeks to provide daily briefings for railway employees who are responsible for securing trains and requires employees to enquire about the number of handbrakes applied to a secured train.

Another section of the order mandates that railroads must submit a process for securing unattended trains that carry hazardous materials.

FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo said the latest action builds upon a comprehensive regulatory framework that the US has had in place for some time.

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"The safe shipment of all cargo is paramount and protecting the safety of the American public is fundamental to our enforcement strategy and we are encouraged by the industry’s willingness to co-operate with this approach going forward," Szabo said.

Image: The US FRA has issued an emergency order following the derailment of a train in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, which killed 47 people in July. Photo: courtesy of Sûreté du Québec.