New Rail Tanker Rules Finalized in Wake of Deadly Crashes

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Canadian and U.S. officials have announced new and harmonized final rules for the transportation of flammable liquids by railroads, including a new class of rail tank car.

The new standard is the result of collaboration on both sides of the border, with a joint goal of strengthening the safety of the two countries’ inter-connected rail networks, according to Transport Canada.

The new TC-117 standard, as its known, includes enhanced safety features that represent a considerable improvement over previous tank car standards including being jacketed and constructed with thicker steel, thermal protection, a full-head shield, top-fitting protection and a new bottom outlet valve.

“The government of Canada is delivering on the promise made one year ago to develop a stronger, safer, more robust tank car. The TC-117 offers a new standard of protection to complement the actions taken to protect communities on both sides of the border. I am hopeful the kind of cooperation we have pursued to develop these measures will be a model for future Canada-U.S. collaboration on transportation issues,” said Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt.

The regulations come in the wake of several train accidents and derailments over the past year couple of involving rail tankers in both Canada and the U.S., including a July 2013 crash in Quebec, killing 47 people.

Officials said this regulation also builds on previous regulatory actions including enhancements to train operations, track inspections, train speeds, sharing of information with municipalities, emergency response assistance plans and classification.

The tank car regulations formalize the commitment made by the Minister on April 23, 2014, to phase-out the DOT-111 tank cars.

The regulations also establish the prescriptive and performance requirements to retrofit a tank car, as well as the retrofit schedule for DOT-111 and CPC 1232 tank cars used to transport flammable liquids.

“This approach removes the least crash resistant tank cars from crude oil carriage first, focusing industry’s efforts on the highest risk areas,” said Transport Canada.

“Safety has been our top priority at every step in the process for finalizing this rule, which is a significant improvement over the current regulations and requirements and will make transporting flammable liquids safer,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Our close collaboration with Canada on new tank car standards is recognition that the trains moving unprecedented amounts of crude by rail are not U.S. or Canadian tank cars, they are part of a North American fleet and a shared safety challenge.”

A graphic on the Transport Canada website has a summary of the enhanced safety features of the new TC-117 tank car.

A complete rundown of the new regulations is also available from the Transport Canada website at  as well as a summary from the U.S. Transportation Department website, in addition to the final rules.

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