The New Rules for Crude Oil and the Railroad Industry

Whether you’re in the railroad industry or the oil and gas sector, you’ve likely heard all about the new rules associated with shipping crude oil across railways in the US and Canada. But even if you have, the latest word is worth reviewing here.


Oil tanker train cars

A Move for Greater Safety

The occurrences of certain large-scale derailments and even explosions over the last few years have prompted railroads and governments in Canada and the US to revisit what can be done in order to prevent such tragedies in the future. As a result, the respective authorities and legislators in both countries have recently announced the new rules for the railroad industry as it involves the transportation of crude oil over railways.Trains that carry crude oil to, from, and all around the US and Canada are now more regulated than ever before.

A major factor to the new regulations is the inclusion of a new or enhanced kind of braking system. The new stipulation from the feds is to include a new, electronically controlled, pneumatic braking system on all cars carrying crude oil.  These new braking systems are said to be capable of slowing a train quicker and safer than the current systems in place of railcars. These new braking systems will be required for trains carrying 100 or more tankers filled with petroleum product.


A Sensible and Warranted Move

As sensible as this all seems, there have been many to voice their concerns against the new rule.  The American Railroad Association has come out to say that this will be far more costly than the feds have considered, and could result in negative operational impacts on a network that fuels so much of the nation’s economy. In addition to the concerns of the American Railroad Association, the American Petroleum Institute feels that the window on implementing the new regulation will make it unrealistically difficult to get rid of the old tankers by 2020, the proposed date to phase out all old braking systems.

On the other hand, a certain un-named advocacy group has been reported to have expressed concerns that while it is a good step to start with the brakes, the new regulation does nothing to help with derailments.  Ultimately, this group feels the powers in charge of the new regulations need to do more to ensure additional safety.

In the end, the new braking system isn’t the only regulation lawmakers have added to the mix. Along with the phase out of old tankers and the addition of new ones, the new rules also impose slower speed restrictions as well. What’s more, the National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that along with these two new regulations there also needs to be better thermal protection and high-capacity pressure release valves for tank cars with flammable liquid.