DOT to issue stronger tanker car regs in 2015

New regulations requiring stronger rail cars for carrying oil will be finalized in 2015, according to a schedule released Tuesday by the Department of Transportation.

Fuel Fix reports that the new regulations come after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has for years called the current rail car model, known as DOT-111, too weak.

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The issue was thrust further into the spotlight when a train carrying oil derailed in North Dakota at the end of December. Of the 20 tank cars that derailed, 18 were punctured, spilling more than 400,000 gallons of crude oil, according to the NTSB.

The regulation would require significant upgrades to rail cars. Only 15 percent of the current fleet of 92,000 DOT-111s used to transport flammable liquids meet industry safety standards, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

The AAR said it supports new regulations for rail cars carrying flammable liquids.

“The committee’s standards today exceed the federal requirements, with DOT-111 tank cars used for moving crude oil and ethanol ordered after October 2011 being built to the higher AAR-Tank Car Committee standards,” the association said in a fact sheet.

Possible improvements include a thicker shell for the rail cars and extra protection for the joints.