Federal agencies Legislation Rail

FRA proposes rule to strengthen oil-by-rail safety

Washington – Federal officials are taking steps to prevent deadly incidents similar to one that occurred in 2013, when an unattended freight train shipping crude oil derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people.

The Federal Railroad Administration published a notice of proposed rulemaking on Sept. 9 that aims to strengthen requirements for securing unattended freight trains. The proposed rule would pertain to trains or vehicles that ship items classified as poisonous by inhalation; flammable gas; flammable or combustible liquid; or explosive materials.

Measures in the proposed rule include:

  • Prevent trains or vehicles transporting specified hazardous materials from being left unattended on a main track or side track unless railroads follow specific securement requirements.
  • Ensure trains are secured by qualified workers and that locks on the locomotive cab are secure.
  • Include securement requirements in job briefings.
  • Have qualified workers perform additional inspections when emergency responders have been on equipment.
  • Install locking mechanisms on locomotive doors and make prompt repairs.

“While our existing securement regulations have been largely successful, it’s important in light of events over the past year that we take additional steps to mitigate risk here in the United States,” FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo said in a press release.