The rail industry wants greater public safety on oil cars, too

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Regarding your July 29 editorial, “Right Track: A Federal Rail Mandate Will Make Oil Cars Safer,” the Railway Supply Institute Committee on Tank Cars has delivered a comprehensive proposal to address rail safety to the Department of Transportation and to Transport Canada. The proposed new rules announced by the federal government last week regarding safe transportation of flammable liquids were based in large part on the information our industry provided. Moreover, in the absence of a new federal regulation, our industry has taken voluntary action, investing more than $7 billion to put 57,000 new and enhanced railroad tank cars into service by 2015.

In response to the proposal issued last week, we are developing a detailed, evidence-based response that will achieve a holistic solution to the challenges the industry is facing. It will include analysis and thoughtful, reasoned responses to ensure a comprehensive rule is achieved.

However, it would be irresponsible to shoot from the hip and attack or embrace the DOT’s proposal until the specific requirements are evaluated and measured. The proposed rules are a 200-page set of options, with alternative timelines; our engineers will provide expert guidance to address each and every item within the 60-day comment period. The Rail Supply Institute has been calling for a rule for years, and we are fully committed to achieving our goal, which is reducing the risk of transporting flammable liquids by rail.

More information on our proposal and voluntary actions are available on our website at

Tom Simpson

President, Railway Supply Institute

Washington, D.C.

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