(Adds details on CN's safety system, quote from CEO, higher
rates for older tank cars)
By Susan Taylor
TORONTO, March 25 Canadian National Railway Co
will phase out its fleet of 183 older tank rail cars
used to transport diesel fuel over the next four years, as it
works to improve safety following a string of industry accidents
involving the puncture-prone cars.
The company, Canada's largest rail operator, said on Tuesday
it will spend C$7 million ($6.26 million) to replace the 40
legacy DOT-111 tank cars that it owns with new cars that meet
the latest regulatory standards, by the end of this year.
Its remaining 143 leased DOT-111 cars will be replaced
gradually as the leases mature over the next four years, the
Montreal-based company said.
DOT-111 tank cars have a long history of puncturing in
accidents, an issue that came into public focus after a runaway
crude train crashed last summer in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing
"For CN, tank car design is one of the most important
systemic issues arising from the Lac-Megantic accident," CN
Chief Executive Officer Claude Mongeau said in a statement.
The development comes after CN and smaller rival Canadian
Pacific Railway Ltd increased rates for the older
variety of DOT-111 tank cars earlier this year. CP said it was
concerned about the cars' use in transporting crude.
Mongeau told Reuters last week that CN was increasingly
moving western Canadian crude, with the vast majority
transported in coiled CPC 1232 tank cars.
The CPC 1232 design refers to a circular issued by the
American Association of Railroads requiring all crude- and
ethanol-carrying cars ordered after October 2011 to have
enhanced safety features, including reinforced outer shells and
CN said it delivers "99.998 percent of dangerous goods ...
without a release caused by an accident."
As part of the push to improve the safety of dangerous goods
transportation, CN also urged that mutual aid intervention
protocols be put into effect.
With the participation of other carriers and producers of
dangerous commodities, such protocols could help set emergency
response standards and expand resources, it said on Tuesday.
The railway has launched a voluntary program to meet
municipal officials and emergency responders to discuss the
nature and volumes of dangerous commodities transported through
their communities. Canadian railways are required to provide
such information to municipalities annually.
The railway has also extended a U.S. policy on hazardous
materials, the OT-55 key train policy, to its Canadian
operations. The policy includes measures on train dispatch,
track inspections and restrictions on train speeds.
($1 = 1.1176 Canadian dollars)
(With additional reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Stephen
Powell and Jeffrey Benkoe)