By Patrick Rucker
WASHINGTON Feb 21 Many oil-by-rail shipments
will slow down through urban areas and track inspections will
increase on high-traffic areas in response to a string of fiery
derailments in the last several months, the American Association
of Railroads said on Friday.
The rail industry agreed to the voluntary measures in
consultation with the U.S. Department of Transportation, which
has been trying to prevent future mishaps.
Among the steps, large cargoes of oil will be fitted with
new braking technology meant to prevent a pile-up on the tracks
in case of a derailment.
That measure will be in place by April and by July, many
large shipments of crude oil will abide by a 40-mph speed limit
(64 kph) in urban areas, the American Association of Railroads
The safety of existing tank cars has come under particular
scrutiny, and the rail industry trade group said that it would
take more care with the DOT-111 model - the workhorse for
Trains will abide by the lower speed in urban areas if an
older model DOT-111 is on the chain of tank cars in that
shipment, the AAR said.
Also of particular concern is fuel produced out of new
energy patches like North Dakota's Bakken region where rail
transport has surged ahead alongside oil production.
Bakken oil shipments could be more flammable and prone to
explosion than crude oil from other regions, officials have
said, and regulators are trying to better understand the risk of
carrying that fuel on the tracks.
Earlier in the week, the American Petroleum Institute said
that it will work to improve testing and classification of
"Safety is a shared responsibility among all
energy-supply-chain stakeholders," AAR President and CEO Edward
Hamberger said in a statement.
In a letter to the association this week, Transportation
Secretary Anthony Foxx said "the rapid increase in the
production and transportation of crude oil requires additional
Early this month, the DOT fined three North Dakota oil
companies $93,000 for wrongly classifying fuel shipments out of
A DOT official said on Friday that officials are still
studying crude shipments out of North Dakota and that further
regulatory and enforcement action could be taken in the coming