Railroads, regulators reach a deal on new safety measures

posted at 5:31 pm on February 22, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

If it seems like you’ve been noticing an increasing number of news items about railroad derailments and accidents lately, it’s because you have; because of our own shale oil-and-gas boom combined with the development of Canada’s oil sands, minus the requisite shipping infrastructure to transport all of it, rail traffic has exploded as a means of shipping these energy products to the nation’s refineries.

Federal investigators say a freight train that crashed outside Pittsburgh last week and spilled thousands of gallons of crude oil was carrying heavy Canadian crude, marking the first U.S. rail spill of the controversial oil at the center of the Keystone pipeline debate.

A 120-car Norfolk Southern train derailed on a curve in Vandergrift, Pa., at 8 a.m. Feb. 13 and crashed into a building. Twenty-one cars left the track and spilled from 3,500 to 12,000 gallons of the tar-like crude. About 75 percent of the spill has been cleaned up, and none entered the local water supply. No injuries were reported.

The upswing in these costly, disruptive, dirty, and sometimes deadly accidents has everybody worried, and on Friday, federal regulators and the rail industry agreed to new voluntary measures aimed at making it safer to ship crude oil via rail tanker, including increased track inspections and lower speed limits in some urban areas. Via the WSJ:

The agreement comes a little more than a month after federal regulators and the rail and petroleum industries met to discuss enhancing safety measures after several recent accidents involving tank cars containing crude—including a fiery derailment in Quebec last July that killed 47 people.

“Safety is our top priority, and we have a shared responsibility to make sure crude oil is transported safely from origin to destination,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.

Federal regulators have been investigating a series of accidents involving exploding tank cars filled with crude from the Bakken oil fields. While crude oil is considered hazardous, it isn’t usually explosive. Derailments by trains—typically caused by track or equipment problems—have triggered the accidents.

Safety measures addressed at the meeting also included sharing information on the composition of crude from the Bakken shale, which the government has warned may be more explosive than other types of crude, as well as examining adding new safety features for tank cars that carry crude.

These new safety measures are a good development, but you know what’s an even safer way to transport all that oil? Terrestrial pipelines. Like, you know, the huge one Canada has been pushing to build for five years now, that the State Department has already concluded several times over would be the most efficient and environmental way to get the job done? What’s that one called again?


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the dot111 cars have been due for upgrades for years and were just starting before a lot of this happened, just aren’t into stream yet.
and pipelines are not going to eat into rail transport, rail east-west traffic going to pick up no matter what the north-south pipelines do.
and they probably will be carryign majority of oil sands bitumen no matter what due to not having to reduce (mix) as much as they need to do to ship by pipeline.

what needs to stop is single crew hazmat trains and not setting enough damned handbrakes like in canada

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Federal investigators say a freight train that crashed outside Pittsburgh last week and spilled thousands of gallons of crude oil was carrying heavy Canadian crude, marking the first U.S. rail spill of the controversial oil at the center of the Keystone pipeline debate

…if it was in the Pipeline…it wouldn’t have spilled!

KOOLAID2 on February 22, 2014 at 5:40 PM

Big winner of course, the slovenly Warren Buffett and his oil-tanker empire.

slickwillie2001 on February 22, 2014 at 5:40 PM

Obama’s handpicked winner: Warren Buffett.

marybel on February 22, 2014 at 5:45 PM

Save us from ourselves! Just put a Sugar Daddy Clinton sized condom on that train and you’re all set.
Build the gd pipeline!

HillC Liver Spot on February 22, 2014 at 5:47 PM

But…but…but…Burlington-Northern is owned by Warren Buffett.

GarandFan on February 22, 2014 at 5:57 PM

Gotta keep ole Warren and his investors happy.

Ruckus_Tom on February 22, 2014 at 6:00 PM

You GO, girl! I love your take on energy issues in this country – and worldwide. With the plethora of pipelines crisscrossing this country, what’s one more, other than what may be defined as the feared, all-in-one-basket Thermopylae of the enviro-nasties of the Green Side. The courts may keep throwing bones to O’s efforts to keep himself in a political soft spot, but the word is out – stop sticking Canada in the eye; you’ll only end up looking puerile.

vnvet on February 22, 2014 at 6:09 PM

First of all, rail is a very safe means of transport, generally speaking. The only reason we’re hearing about these types of incidents more is because more (a lot more) oil is being transported by rail. People mostly snooze if a freight train carrying grain in our huge country experiences an accident. Keystone aside, the thing is that our oil and natural gas boom right now is so huge that even if there were no government meddling, there still wouldn’t be the pipeline infrastructure in place in the near term to handle it.

This is why road tanker activity is also surging along these lines. Pipleline infrastructure (in the US, and in tandem with rail)is developing, however.

But what I’m more curious about is refinery capacity. I’ve heard experts disagree sharply about this. Do we have too much capacity? Too little? Anyone here know?

WhatSlushfund on February 22, 2014 at 6:16 PM

what needs to stop is single crew hazmat trains and not setting enough damned handbrakes like in canada

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 5:38 PM

.
Was vandalism/sabotage absolutely ruled out in that one up in Canada ?

The last I’d heard, it had not been … but it wasn’t the primary suspect, either.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 6:29 PM

Obama’s handpicked winner: Warren Buffett.

marybel on February 22, 2014 at 5:45 PM
.

But…but…but…Burlington-Northern is owned by Warren Buffett.

GarandFan on February 22, 2014 at 5:57 PM

.
Gotta keep ole Warren and his investors happy.

Ruckus_Tom on February 22, 2014 at 6:00 PM

.
I’m not trying to say everyone should “let their guard down”, but there is this.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 6:38 PM

First of all, rail is a very safe means of transport, generally speaking. The only reason we’re hearing about these types of incidents more is because more (a lot more) oil is being transported by rail.

As someone who works around trains on a regular basis, I can say that people have no idea as to the number of derailments that occur annually. The great majority never make the news. Only when those derailments resulting in people dying do we hear about them.
I would recommend that if you come to a rail crossing, and a training is passing through to drive around the block and come back. At least stop 70′ back. And if you happen to get stuck on a crossing, get out of your vehicle and call the phone number found on the silver boxes by most crossings or on the cross hatch poles. This will warn the railroad and they can get any approaching trains to stop.

RAN58 on February 22, 2014 at 6:44 PM

Was vandalism/sabotage absolutely ruled out in that one up in Canada ?

The last I’d heard, it had not been … but it wasn’t the primary suspect, either.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 6:29 PM

as far as I can tell, the air brake issue caused by the engine shutdown was due to the fire in it.
I don’t think the final reports released yet but from what I am reading it really was an SOP that wasn’t up to the task. Not a deliberate (as far as I can tell) avoiding of rules, the rules IMO just were not taking into account typical air leakdown with a dead engine and consist on hill with its handbrake/retainer settings.
a real tragedy.

I forget the figures now but there are many DOT111 cars in build process now designed around new (2012 ??) specs due out later this year until 2015, there is a huge backorder of them, but they all may be null as the specs themselves may change this year (due to canada accident) rendering all of them useless.
however I suspect cooler heads will prevail on those. This railcar design been around (although updated) since the 60′s and is the backbone of these shipments.

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 6:51 PM

But what I’m more curious about is refinery capacity. I’ve heard experts disagree sharply about this. Do we have too much capacity? Too little? Anyone here know?

WhatSlushfund on February 22, 2014 at 6:16 PM

.
Last I’d heard, it was “not enough”. But now you’ve got me wondering who is saying differently.

BTW, a significant number of these trains are daily running within about four or five miles of my residence, on their way to the Delaware City refinery.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 6:52 PM

I’m not trying to say everyone should “let their guard down”, but there is this.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 6:38 PM

thats due to most of the tank cars in US fleet being leased, by buying direct (last I heard every class 1 looking into this) railroads can get them quicker vs waiting on the leasing companies to get them and rotate the leased ones out.
rail will be expanding with oil no matter how many pipelines built, has nothing to do with buffet/bnsf. they also will be making a lot of money handling drilling supplies/sand and pipeline construction material as there are no (or little) hazmat issues (permits/insurance/schedulings/etc) to deal with.
the whole buffet thing is a red herring IMO.
but I could be wrong, happens often enough :)

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 6:57 PM

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 6:29 PM
.
as far as I can tell, the air brake issue caused by the engine shutdown was due to the fire in it.
I don’t think the final reports released yet but from what I am reading it really was an SOP that wasn’t up to the task. Not a deliberate (as far as I can tell) avoiding of rules, the rules IMO just were not taking into account typical air leakdown with a dead engine and consist on hill with its handbrake/retainer settings.
a real tragedy.

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 6:51 PM

.
If there were NO “handbrake rules” regarding any freight train parked on a ‘down’ gradient like this one was, then I’d have to blame management. I believe any U.S. railroads would regard that gross negligence.
Even if just the loco handbrakes were well set, it should have prevented the train from beginning to roll, I would think.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 7:02 PM

But what I’m more curious about is refinery capacity. I’ve heard experts disagree sharply about this. Do we have too much capacity? Too little? Anyone here know?

WhatSlushfund on February 22, 2014 at 6:16 PM

.

Last I’d heard, it was “not enough”. But now you’ve got me wondering who is saying differently.

BTW, a significant number of these trains are daily running within about four or five miles of my residence, on their way to the Delaware City refinery.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 6:52 PM

A very complicated question because every refinery is a chemical factory designed to take in a certain type or range of crude and put out a type or range of petroleum products.

We might have a shortage for example in refineries that can process very heavy oils, and an excess of capacity that can process light sweeter crude.

Location of the refinery and means to get the crude you have to the refinery that can handle it adds to the question.

slickwillie2001 on February 22, 2014 at 7:03 PM

I’m not trying to say everyone should “let their guard down”, but there is this.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 6:38 PM

That reeks of PR to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they shouldn’t do it. But it 1) gives them the “image” of being safety conscious (to keep the feds at bay), and 2) I have no doubt that there’s a profit motive. Demand for rail tank cars is skyrocketing because of the shale boom.

The drive for “safer” tank cars didn’t start with the shale boom. Prior to this, chemical rail transport was a big issue because of some high-profile incidents, and because the immediate post 9/11 era, the GWB Administration was examining every security vulnerability imaginable to a fault, and a terrorist attack on Toxic Inhalation cargo rail tanks was one of them, and they were breathing down the necks of the industry).

It’s all the same issues, whether we’re talking about oil or, say, chlorine. Stronger cars, braking systems, valve securement, etc.

BNSF is a good company (politics aside). But this is not new. Rail tank manufacturers, in line with the boom in shale energy production, are also experiencing a huge surge, and demand for rail tank cars is surging. Naturally, they are supplying the latest-generation models. BNSF is just responding to market demand. (But spinning it as “safety.”)Which is fine. The main thing is that the government needs to let the market handle it.

WhatSlushfund on February 22, 2014 at 7:12 PM

Even if just the loco handbrakes were well set, it should have prevented the train from beginning to roll, I would think.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 7:02 PM

not even close.
picture hooking a couple 18 wheelers (with no brakes set) to a prius on a hill. the prius will just (like happened here) get dragged.
I forget exact wording but the rules leave it up to personnel on site.

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 7:15 PM

by buying direct (last I heard every class 1 looking into this) railroads can get them quicker vs waiting on the leasing companies to get them and rotate the leased ones out.

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 6:57 PM

Now that’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that. If that’s true, that would be a significant trend.

WhatSlushfund on February 22, 2014 at 7:17 PM

They also will be making a lot of money handling drilling supplies/sand and pipeline construction material as there are no (or little) hazmat issues (permits/insurance/schedulings/etc) to deal with.

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 6:57 PM

.
WOW . . . . . I had not even considered that. Excellent point.

Thanks for bringing it to light.
.

the whole buffet thing is a red herring IMO.
but I could be wrong, happens often enough :)

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 6:57 PM

.
Agree totally.

That could too easily be a “politically motivated” announcement, or not.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 7:20 PM

Notice the train that derailed was in PA and

BTW, a significant number of these trains are daily running within about four or five miles of my residence, on their way to the Delaware City refinery.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 6:52 PM

– and where does Keystone go?? not to the product markets where the crude is going now!! They want in TX where the recent clamor about selling American oil products makes sense because the product market is already well served. So if the Canadian and ND crude go to TX, where is the crude to serve these refineries going to come from?? Nowhere. and these refineries will close and people will pay more for refined products.

Obama may actually be doing the market a backhanded favor in delaying the Pipeline until it can go to the right place!!

KenInIL on February 22, 2014 at 7:25 PM

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 7:02 PM

.
Not even close.
Picture hooking a couple 18 wheelers (with no brakes set) to a prius on a hill. The prius will just (like happened here) get dragged.
I forget exact wording but the rules leave it up to personnel on site.

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 7:15 PM

.
You sound like more of an industry ‘insider’ than I, but I honestly would have thought they could have “held it.”

What is the ‘gradient’ on the hill they rolled down (if you know)?

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 7:27 PM

I forget actually, not quite 1% (rise of 1 foot every 100 feet) seems familiar.
just a railfan, remember the contact area from wheel to rail is about 1 dimes worth of area.

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 7:42 PM

By buying direct (last I heard every class 1 looking into this) railroads can get them quicker vs waiting on the leasing companies to get them and rotate the leased ones out.

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 6:57 PM

.
Now that’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that. If that’s true, that would be a significant trend.

WhatSlushfund on February 22, 2014 at 7:17 PM

.
Back in the early years, most rail cars were owned by the railroad companies.

The only ones I can think of that weren’t, were the “Pullman” passenger cars, and REA Express cars.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 7:44 PM

I forget actually, not quite 1% (rise of 1 foot every 100 feet) seems familiar.

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 7:42 PM

.
Plenty to get a parked train rolling.
.

Just a railfan, remember the contact area from wheel to rail is about 1 dimes worth of area.

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 7:42 PM

.
That much I did remember, after first learning it some years ago.
One of those pertinent bits of “rail trivia”, that come in handy, at times.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 7:53 PM

Notice the train that derailed was in PA and

BTW, a significant number of these trains are daily running within about four or five miles of my residence, on their way to the Delaware City refinery.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 6:52 PM

– and where does Keystone go?? not to the product markets where the crude is going now!! They want in TX where the recent clamor about selling American oil products makes sense because the product market is already well served. So if the Canadian and ND crude go to TX, where is the crude to serve these refineries going to come from?? Nowhere. and these refineries will close and people will pay more for refined products.

Obama may actually be doing the market a backhanded favor in delaying the Pipeline until it can go to the right place!!

KenInIL on February 22, 2014 at 7:25 PM

.
So the “Keystone Pipeline” is more for ‘exporting,’ than for Texas refineries ?

I really hadn’t heard that one, before. But that doesn’t mean you’re wrong ….. only that you’re the first one I’ve heard suggest this possibility.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 8:02 PM

Now that’s interesting. I hadn’t heard that. If that’s true, that would be a significant trend.

WhatSlushfund on February 22, 2014 at 7:17 PM

I would think (I’m not a $$ guy so just a guess) its pretty indicative of how long oil will be with the railroads.
and with the issues with the older DOT111 cars it may actually save money vs leasing right now due to the insurance on older ones, if the older ones are even allowed to run soon.
I know they leasing companies (I don’t have specific names, just generalizations) have back orders for new ones out to 2015.

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 8:10 PM

Should major stockholder of the preznit, Warren Buffett, eff up and wipe out a city a call to Sleazy Eric Holder should “solve” the problem…

viking01 on February 22, 2014 at 8:10 PM

Big winner of course, the slovenly Warren Buffett and his oil-tanker empire.

slickwillie2001 on February 22, 2014 at 5:40 PM

He purchased a chemical division of Phillips at the end of last year which makes pipeline additives that decrease turbulence in heavy oil pipelines thus increasing the flow by up to 30%. He paid $1.4 billion for it.

Kermit on February 22, 2014 at 8:21 PM

those flucking environmentalist nutballs seem hellbent on ruining the very thing they claim to want to save.

john1schn on February 22, 2014 at 8:23 PM

those flucking environmentalist nutballs seem hellbent on ruining the very thing they claim to want to save.

john1schn on February 22, 2014 at 8:23 PM

The “high level” “environmentalist nutballs” are deliberately trying to destroy the U.S. … and nothing less.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 8:52 PM

I would think (I’m not a $$ guy so just a guess) its pretty indicative of how long oil will be with the railroads.
and with the issues with the older DOT111 cars it may actually save money vs leasing right now due to the insurance on older ones, if the older ones are even allowed to run soon.
I know they leasing companies (I don’t have specific names, just generalizations) have back orders for new ones out to 2015.

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 8:10 PM

That all makes economic sense. If you know that you’re going to have them for a while, cut out the middle-man, right? Build a fleet.

Tank car manufacturers must be raking it in right now. Interesting times…

WhatSlushfund on February 22, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Back in the early years, most rail cars were owned by the railroad companies.

The only ones I can think of that weren’t, were the “Pullman” passenger cars, and REA Express cars.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 7:44 PM

Yeah, but back then, weren’t they all state-owned to one degree or another? (This is a serious question. Rail is very complicated. It’s a very hard thing to form public policy on. At least that’s how it strikes me.) So, yeah, do you know if they were state owned?

WhatSlushfund on February 22, 2014 at 9:19 PM

That all makes economic sense. If you know that you’re going to have them for a while, cut out the middle-man, right? Build a fleet.

Tank car manufacturers must be raking it in right now. Interesting times…

WhatSlushfund on February 22, 2014 at 8:56 PM

been a long time since I looked into this (so take it with grain of salt) but IIRC with leasing they save a ton on mtx and regulatory costs (some need hydro tests, valve inspections, etc) as well as storage during lulls. So I think (and I may be way off here) its more of a need it fast issue.
iirc theres between 90-110K of these cars on US railroads now so 5K is pretty small number really.
and I may be way off here.

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 9:51 PM

Sometimes you are going to have to transfer bulk (oil) shipments by rail…

If we have to secure that train, we have grade and tonnage charts to tie the PROPER number of hand brakes on the tank cars…

Tie the required number of brakes and release the train air to see it the hand brakes hold (that way is it ALSO “on the tapes”, known as the Event Recorder… then put a 20 pound set on the train and secure (and lock) the locomotives with 100% of engine hand brakes tied…

This isn’t rocket science… trains that are tied down properly only runaway if tampered with…

Signed, a Class 1 Locomotive Engineer

Khun Joe on February 22, 2014 at 9:54 PM

Yeah, but back then, weren’t they all state-owned to one degree or another? (This is a serious question. Rail is very complicated. It’s a very hard thing to form public policy on. At least that’s how it strikes me.) So, yeah, do you know if they were state owned?

WhatSlushfund on February 22, 2014 at 9:19 PM

state owned started after staggers act for the most part it I remember the timing correctly.
now state owned track is different and its something I have never gotten a good handle on, when lines went bankrupt states (WI is good example) bought up lot of the line and roads lease or work deals out to use.
yeah its a complicated issue I never really got my head around. Lot of it always seemed due to the fact roads were not allow to just abandon track that caused losses.
Canada and VIA is good example of that.

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 9:55 PM

Khun Joe on February 22, 2014 at 9:54 PM

am I remembering wrong or does each road have its own SOP on the number?
I’ve been looking to see anything (been about 6 weeks ince I last looked though) from the recorder on the canadian one but have not found it yet.

dmacleo on February 22, 2014 at 10:00 PM

I’m sure each railroad has its own tonnage charts…

Regarding the info from the Event Recorder in the Canadian fiasco, I have never seen it stated that an air brake release was performed on the train, the hand brakes held, and the air brakes were reapplied with a 20 pound set…

Until I do, I won’t believe it happened…

If I do see that it was confirmed, then someone tampered with the train after it was secured…

Its really that simple…

Khun Joe on February 22, 2014 at 10:39 PM

Obama may actually be doing the market a backhanded favor in delaying the Pipeline until it can go to the right place!!

KenInIL on February 22, 2014 at 7:25 PM

When the unrest in Venezuela starts hitting the oil industry, the refineries on the Gulf Coast will be really wishing they had that heavy Canadian crude to replace their Venezuelan supply and so will the US gas buying public.

KW64 on February 22, 2014 at 11:45 PM

Back in the early years, most rail cars were owned by the railroad companies.

The only ones I can think of that weren’t, were the “Pullman” passenger cars, and REA Express cars.

listens2glenn on February 22, 2014 at 7:44 PM

.
Yeah, but back then, weren’t they all state-owned to one degree or another? (This is a serious question. Rail is very complicated. It’s a very hard thing to form public policy on. At least that’s how it strikes me.) So, yeah, do you know if they were state owned?

WhatSlushfund on February 22, 2014 at 9:19 PM

.
? ! ? ! ? ! . . . . . I’ve not heard of “state owned” rail cars, before. But that doesn’t mean you’re wrong … only that it’s a new premise to me.

“Rail is very complicated”? … “It’s a very hard thing to form public policy on”?

In a word . . . . . “yes”.

I’m quite certain this goes back to the pre-WWII days, when railroad owners (and UNIONS) were lobbying government HARD, for “breaks” on certain regulations, and labor laws.

listens2glenn on February 23, 2014 at 8:54 AM

But…but…but…Burlington-Northern is owned by Warren Buffett.

GarandFan on February 22, 2014 at 5:57 PM

WB purchased Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad for 44B in total (he started buying shares in 2006 long before President Obama was elected and BNSF hauls as much coal as crude. Pipelines are cost efficient, but more point to point thus rail is more flexible in routes. Over the road is the most expensive. WB saw the rise in home grown (so to speak) energy development and made an investment that baffled many. He bought BNSF for around 13 times earnings and is now smiling ear to ear. Building the pipeline will not affect his business model, since the demand for rail shipping of energy is rising year by year.

Dude is smart…..yea I know he missed predicting the downturn, but so did most folks.

Do you own a M1 Garand. I sure wish I did.

HonestLib on February 23, 2014 at 9:14 AM

The DOT 111s have pretty much disappeared here in the Permian Basin, in favor of the newer tanker cars with the shielded exteriors. There aren’t as many of those cars needed here, but in the far eastern and western portions of the Basin, where the Wolfbone and Cline shale formations are just in development, the situation is similar to North Dakota and Canada, in that the pipeline infrastructure isn’t in place yet and the oil until that time has to be shipped out either by rail or tanker truck.

(The other difference of course is the Permian Basin has about three hills total until you get to the mountains on the western edge, so the possibility of a runaway train of oil tanker cars is pretty remote. You’re more likely to get a derailment if a loaded oilfield water truck tries to cross the tracks too late and gets nailed by a freight train — you’d be surprised how much damage the front engine of the train absorbs when those things do happen.)

jon1979 on February 23, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Khun Joe on February 22, 2014 at 10:39 PM

have not seen it either, one of the things I was looking for.
thinking brakes were applied, some (not enough) hand brakes set, engineer left for the night is what happened. so no testing of the handbrakes. then leak down (old equipment/both locos not running/whatever) and runaway.

dmacleo on February 23, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Yeah, but back then, weren’t they all state-owned to one degree or another?

WhatSlushfund on February 22, 2014 at 9:19 PM

.
? ! ? ! ? ! . . . . . I’ve not heard of “state owned” rail cars, before. But that doesn’t mean you’re wrong … only that it’s a new premise to me.

Yeah, I may have been completely wrong about that. I’m very fuzzy on the longer term history of the development of US rail. I didn’t get involved until long after the Staggers Act. I should be less intellectually lazy. So I guess the railroads were always privately owned but previously just much more heavily regulated? I’m still confused.

For some vague reason I was thinking that long ago the railroads were state-owned like they’d been in Europe. (Although that’s changed a lot over the past decade or so — a lot more privatization there.) You know, kind of like a city bus service.

Like I say, still unclear on the history of it.

WhatSlushfund on February 23, 2014 at 10:39 AM

jon1979 on February 23, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Excellent eyes-on-the-ground account. More of this please. I know plenty of people that are dying for this kind of insight into how things are going at the shale formations. I’d love to tour these areas myself, but the chances of that are slim.

WhatSlushfund on February 23, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Both CN and CP have already informed their customers that any of the tank cars that don’t meet the 2013 spec will cost more to carry.

The final transport canada report doesn’t seem to be out.

Canadian Imperialist Running Dog on February 23, 2014 at 10:49 AM

“rail traffic has exploded”

I see what you did there.

Write Wing on February 23, 2014 at 10:53 AM

For some vague reason I was thinking that long ago the railroads were state-owned like they’d been in Europe. (Although that’s changed a lot over the past decade or so — a lot more privatization there.) You know, kind of like a city bus service.

Like I say, still unclear on the history of it.

WhatSlushfund on February 23, 2014 at 10:39 AM

Railroads were and are PRIVATELY owned… always have been… See “Lelend Stanford” and “Southern Pacific” (why do you think they have a train whistle up at The Farm where the football team plays?)… there is also a show an A&E about the early history of the Union Pacific Railroad… not nice people, then and now…

Khun Joe on February 23, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Railroads were and are PRIVATELY owned… always have been… See “Lelend Stanford” and “Southern Pacific” (why do you think they have a train whistle up at The Farm where the football team plays?)… there is also a show an A&E about the early history of the Union Pacific Railroad… not nice people, then and now…

Khun Joe on February 23, 2014 at 11:19 AM

Thank you. That helps to clear things up a lot. I’ll see if I can check out the show.

WhatSlushfund on February 23, 2014 at 11:25 AM

For some vague reason I was thinking that long ago the railroads were state-owned like they’d been in Europe. (Although that’s changed a lot over the past decade or so — a lot more privatization there.) You know, kind of like a city bus service.

Like I say, still unclear on the history of it.

WhatSlushfund on February 23, 2014 at 10:39 AM

.
The original east-west transportation company in Pennsylvania was, in f act, state owned. It was a combination of (crude) railroads and canals. It was called the Mainline Of Public Works.
But then the EVIL CAPITALIST PIG Pennsylvania Railroad came along, and took all of the business away from the Main Line Of Public Works, causing it to cease operations.
Then the PRR bought a large chunk of the real estate, left behind by the canal system, and greatly improved their own operations, with it.

How’s that for “EVIL”?

listens2glenn on February 23, 2014 at 12:09 PM

While crude oil is considered hazardous, it isn’t usually explosive.

This is what bothered me about the Canadian crash. It’s flash point should even be below what you’d get from a crash. But it went boom. Why?

you know what’s an even safer way to transport all that oil? Terrestrial pipelines.

Versus celestial pipelines? o.O

GWB on February 23, 2014 at 8:02 PM

While crude oil is considered hazardous, it isn’t usually explosive.

Laura Stevens (online.wsj.com) on February 21, 2014 at 1:03 PM

.
This is what bothered me about the Canadian crash. It’s flash point should even be below what you’d get from a crash. But it went boom. Why?

GWB on February 23, 2014 at 8:02 PM

.
I’ve wondered about that, from day one. Same for the wreck of the oil train at Bismark, North Dakota, which ironically was going to the same destination as the train involved in the ‘run-away’ crash at Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

Simply igniting on fire isn’t hard to understand; lots of sparks occur with any derailment. Even at low-speed.
But the impacts with these two accidents would have had to “generate/release” enough energy to cause ‘atomization’ of the oil, for an explosion.

Are there any more knowledgeable persons at hotair.com, who can respond to this?

listens2glenn on February 24, 2014 at 11:25 AM

you know what’s an even safer way to transport all that oil? Terrestrial pipelines.

Erika Johnsen on February 22, 2014 at 5:31 PM

.
Versus celestial pipelines? o.O

GWB on February 23, 2014 at 8:02 PM

.
Fictitious line from fictitious news story:

NASA announced today a long-term plan to build a ‘flexible’ hi-tech pipeline from Mars to earth. Such a line would have to be long enough to reach around, and at a safe distance from the sun, when our two planets are at opposite sides of it.

listens2glenn on February 24, 2014 at 11:35 AM