Re the March 31 article, Fixing railroad tank cars gains traction after recent derailments: While enhanced tank cars can help reduce derailment severity, and new regulations are needed, it’s a mistake to expect that only modifications to tank cars will solve the problem of crude-oil train derailments.
Addressing the two leading causes of train derailments — broken rail and human error — will make a difference. Voluntary measures taken by railroads to decrease the severity of derailment have been encouraging. At the same time, shippers must also play a role to ensure products are made as safe as possible prior to transportation. And, steps must be taken to ensure we have sufficient emergency response capabilities.
The members of Railway Supply Institute Committee on Tank Cars, who build and own the majority of tank cars, have already invested more than $7 billion to put 57,000 new cars on the tracks by the end of 2015. We believe the entire fleet of tank cars in flammable liquid service should include tank jackets, steel head shields and other protections that will reduce the severity of accidents. We’re urging fast action by the U.S. and Canadian governments to implement a comprehensive, risk-based approach to prevention, mitigation and response.
Tom Simpson, president, Railway Supply Institute, Washington, D.C.