On February 21, 2014, the US Department of Transportation (DOT)
and the Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced a rail
safety initiative to institute new voluntary operating practices
for moving crude oil by rail. This initiative relates to
crude-by-rail operations and does not include tank car standards or
proper shipper classification of crude oil, both of which are being
handled separately. The voluntary practices agreed to by the
Increased Track Inspections – Beginning
March 25, 2014, the railroads will perform at least one additional
internal rail inspection per year above those required by new
Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) rules on main line routes
over which trains moving 20 or more carloads of crude oil travel.
The railroads will also conduct at least two high-tech track
geometry inspections each year on main line routes over which
trains moving 20 or more cars of crude oil are moving. Current
federal regulations do not require high-tech track geometry
Braking Systems – No later than April 1,
2014, the railroads will equip all trains with 20 or more carloads
of crude oil with either distributed power or two-way telemetry
end-of-train devices. These technologies allow brakes to be applied
from both ends of the train.
Use of Rail Traffic Routing Technology –
No later than July 1, 2014, the railroads will begin to use the
Rail Corridor Risk Management System (RCRMS) to help determine the
safest and most secure rail routes for trains with 20 or more cars
of crude oil.
Lower Speeds – No later than July 1,
2014, the railroads will operate trains with 20 or more tank cars
carrying crude oil that include at least one older DOT-111 car no
faster than 40 miles per hour in the federally designated 46
high-threat urban areas as established by the Department of
Homeland Security. "In the meantime, railroads will continue
to operate trains with 20 or more carloads of hazardous materials,
including crude oil, at the industry self-imposed speed limit of 50
miles per hour."
Community Relations – The railroads will
work with communities through which crude oil trains move to
address local concerns.
Increased Trackside Safety Technology –
No later than July 1, 2014, railroads will begin to install
additional wayside wheel bearing detectors every 40 miles along
tracks with trains carrying 20 or more crude oil cars.
Increased Emergency Response Training and Tuition
Assistance – The railroads have committed to provide
$5 million by July 1, 2014, to develop specialized crude-by-rail
training and a tuition assistance program for local first
Emergency Response Capability Planning –
By July 1, 2014, the railroads will develop "an inventory of
emergency response resources for responding to the release of large
amounts of crude oil along routes over which trains with 20 or more
cars of crude oil operate. This inventory will include locations
for the staging of emergency response equipment and, where
appropriate, contacts for the notification of
The railroads plan to work with the DOT and their rail customers
to address other key shared responsibilities, including federal
tank car standards and the proper classification and labeling of
crude oil moving by rail.
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