More Tank Cars Now Meet Federal Standards

A report released this week concludes that 48 percent of railroad tank cars that carried Class 3 flammable liquids in 2019 met the new federal safety requirements, up from 33 percent in 2018.

The report released by the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics tracks the transformation of the fleet carrying Class 3 flammable liquids to be a fleet of DOT-117s, which meet new safety requirements.

In a news release, BTS said some Class 3 flammable liquids are carried in tank cars, such as DOT-111s that have fewer safety features.

DOT-117 compliant tank cars now make up 73 percent of the tank car fleet, up from 46 percent in 2018.

BTS said DOT-111 tank cars, which lack jackets and do not meet the new safety standards, have not carried crude oil since 2016 and the percentage of all other tank car types carrying crude oil dropped from 66 percent in 2017 to 28 percent in 2019, BTS officials said.

Federal law mandated that railroads stop carrying crude oil in DOT-111 tank cars starting in 2018.

The BTS report described the progress of tank car safety upgrades from 2013 through 2019 by tank car type and type of flammable liquid. Class 3 flammable liquids most commonly include crude oil, ethanol and refined petroleum products.

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