Tag Archives: DOT-111a

Railway Age Magazine: The importance of little accidents

Repost from Railway Age Magazine
[Editor: At every turn, when an article mentions the North Dakota requirement for crude oil “stabilization,” I must remind the reader that North Dakota does NOT require crude oil “conditioning” as is required in Texas.  Conditioning would make the oil much safer.  – RS]

The importance of little accidents

By  David Schanoes, July 20, 2015 
You know the kind I mean: the ones where nobody gets hurt, nothing blows up, and nobody shows up, except you.

You get there. There’s no press, no NTSB “go team,” no competing reflectorized vests with initials like FBI, DHS, ATF, PHMSA, DEA, FRA, NTSB. No senators expressing shock and dismay and demanding that heads will—as the cameras do—roll.

There’s just you. The wreckmaster is on the way. The track supervisor too. The local fire department is there, and the cops. Everybody is thinking, “What a mess.” And looking at you.

And you know what? It’s better this way. We might actually be able to learn something. Less noise, more signal.

We’ve had a couple of the little ones recently.

First, on July 16, a BNSF unit crude oil train derailed 22 cars near Culbertson, Mont. Three tank cars ruptured, spilling approximately 35,000 gallons of crude. No fire, no explosion, no headlines, none of that stuff I listed above and that I would be happy to never list again.

Now, if I were BNSF, or the NTSB, or FRA, or DOT, or PHMSA, I’d be very interested in this no-fire, no-explosion derailment. BNSF hasn’t identified the source of the crude, but since the train was loaded by Savage Bakken Oil Services in Trenton, N. Dak., I think it’s safe to assume that the contents of this train was Bakken crude.

Last April, North Dakota required that Bakken crude be stabilized (reducing its volatility) prior to transport. So I’d be very interested in knowing if this train was transporting the stabilized crude.

Even more recently, USDOT has established new specs for tank cars handling unpressurized flammable materials, replacing DOT 111 and 111A specs for those cars with the new 117 classification. Another “interim” car, CPC 1232, is currently in service.

So I’d be very interested in knowing if the three cars that ruptured were 111, 111A, or 1232 models. ’d also be very interested in knowing if other cars that did derail but did not rupture are 111, 111A, or 1232 models.

DOT has also stipulated that CBR trains be fitted for ECP, electro-pneumatic braking, meaning of course, that the CBR tank cars must be fitted for ECP braking.

ECP braking is not a new concept. It’s been around for at least, what, 60 years? Instead of using changes in air pressure traveling throughout the entire length of the train to signal for the application of brakes, electro-pneumatic braking sends an electronic signal to receivers on each car’s air brake apparatus to initiate braking. “Lag time” is virtually eliminated; brakes set up simultaneously, smoothly, with dramatic reduction of in-train forces. Great idea—for passenger trains, where all the cars share common electrical connections with the locomotive.

ECP may be a great idea for freight trains. It’s definitely an expensive one, as the 90,000 or so tank cars currently more or less captured in hazmat/CBR transport have no electrical connections to anything.

So I’d be interested in knowing, with ECP braking, how many of the 22 cars that did derail would not have derailed. I’d be interested in knowing if the three tank cars that ruptured after derailing (a) wouldn’t have derailed to begin with and (b) would not have been subject to “rupture forces” due to additional impact from following cars if ECP braking had been installed.

Sounds like a job for TTCI, if you ask me.

And we had a second little accident on Friday, July 17, 2015, right here in New York City. Initially reported as a “sideswipe,” it was in fact a collision between two LIRR passenger trains. A westbound train was stopped at an interlocking signal at HALL. An eastbound train violated a signal displaying “stop,” and proceeded to collide with the stopped train. You can see a summary of the accident on, where else? YouTube. The summary begins around 3:31 into the video.

Again, no injuries, no fires, no explosions. But a lot to learn, because at 13:50 into the video, the president of the LIRR says that because this stop signal violation and resulting collision took place in the interlocking, “PTC isn’t going to help.”

This is startling news, and I hope it’s just a misunderstanding, as LIRR’s approved PTCIP (PTC Implementation Plan), available in public docket FRA-2010-0031, states:

The LIRR PTC system will enforce a stop at every Home Signal displaying a Stop aspect. Transponders provide the onboard computer with the information that the train is approaching a Home Signal and the distance to that Home Signal. The onboard system uses this data to generate a speed profile with a 0 mph target speed at a target point in approach to the signal. . . .

Now, back in the day, “home signals” meant the extreme outer opposing signals of an interlocking. Signals within the interlocking might be referred to as intermediate signals, although the requirements for complying with a stop indication from such a signal within the interlocking limits was exactly the same as that for the home signal.

The distinction between “home” and “intermediate” interlocking signals has operating significance only in defining the geographical boundaries of the interlocking in which all the interlocking rules apply, including stop at every signal displaying stop.

In addition 49 CFR 236.1005(a)(1)(i) (“Requirements for Positive Train Control systems) requires at interlockings where PTC routes intersect that PTC enforce “the stop on all routes.”

It’s the little things that mean the most, sometimes, so I’m looking forward to the little answers.

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    Oil Train Week of Action July 6-13, 2014

    Repost from San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center

    Oil Train Week of Action July 6-13, 2014

    by Matt Landon ( vancouveractionnetwork [at] gmail.com )
    Jun 20th, 2014

    Bakken crude oil trains have exploded at least 8 times since the first a year ago in Canada. Please plan an action during July 6-13, 2014 to protest the continued endangerment of our communities by the oil by rail industry.

    Please repost far and wide.

    Are explosive Bakken crude oil trains coming through your town? / Actions you can take now!

    July 6, 2014 marks the one year anniversary of the first major oil train explosion in Canada which took the lives of 47 people. The week of July 6-13, 2014 is an international week of action to mark this anniversary and make sure these folk’s lives were not lost in vain. Your actions should not be limited to this one week as we are dealing with an entrenched oil and rail industry and don’t settle for anything less than the a complete ban on any oil shipped by DOT 111 and DOT 111a cars.

    Actions are being posted on http://www.stopoiltrains.org

    When you organize a protest please contact us at vancouveractionnetwork [at] gmail.com

    We have come up with tactics here in Vancouver, Washington to take this from a defensive to an offensive fight against the oil by rail industry. Please consider using these tactics as they are and will be effective. If you begin using this tactics please contact us so we can help document your work. If you need tech support contact us.

    Take care, matt landon with Vancouver Action Network vancouveractionnetwork.blogspot.com

    Check out this map to see if oil trains are coming through– http://priceofoil.org/rail-map/

    Oil trains are bad because they have blown up at least 8 times in the last year killing innocent railside residents and polluting the environment. As the US and Canada have increased their oil extraction and production–and as resistance to oil pipelines becomes more effective–the use of trains to transport oil has skyrocketed, leaving communities vulnerable to explosions, oil spills, and unmonitored oil train air emissions. We must take action now to stop this trend!

    Call to Action— Nationwide protests and formation of an International Oil Train Activists movement

    This is a call for activists to join in creating an International Oil Train Activists movement and to help organize mass non-violent protests across the North American continent against explosive oil trains.

    We have three nationwide protest actions.

    1) First contact your state Emergency Management Agency and fill out a public records request for information which the railroads have provided to the EMA’s in relation to DOT Emergency Order DOT-OST-2014-0067 and which was due by June 7, 2014.

    Find your state EMA– http://www.fema.gov/state-offices-and-agencies-emergency-management

    For more info about DOT Emergency Order– http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/emergency-order

    Information on public records request in WA– http://www.mil.wa.gov/about/about_public_records_disclosure.shtml

    Here is the request form for Washington state– http://www.mil.wa.gov/about/documents/mil_public_records_request_form.pdf

    Please print the above form and fill in the following information including your name, date, email and signature and return to the WA state EMA or your state EMA.

    We have filed an information request here in Washington state and the EMA informed us that the railroad would likely seek a court injunction against our request. This is GREAT because it means that the railroad is spending between several hundred and several thousand dollars to keep one person from one group from getting this information! Let’s see how many people we can get to request this information and how much money we can cost the railroads. We plan to request this information in 49 US states.

    When you request info from your state EMA please let us know vancouveractionnetwork [at] gmail.com

    2) Since the railroads won’t release their oil train information we can just generate the information ourselves. You can start a 100% Oil Train Watch in your city, town, or neighborhood by using Twitter on a computer or smart phone. If you see a 100% oil train Tweet the time, location, direction of train travel, and your state’s abbreviation in the hashtag such as #waoiltrainwatch for Washington state or #tnoiltrainwatch for Tennessee. By watching and recording these trains we can be a warning siren for first responders, elected officials and the general public with real time information. We can also use this information to provide a check on the info the railroads provide to the state EMAs, and on possible total oil train volume violations of air quality permits of current export facilities.

    To view our Train Watching activities go to vancouveractionnetwork.blogspot.com

    Let us know you are Tweeting about 100% oil trains at vancouveractionnetwork [at] gmail.com

    3) The Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration are the two agencies that regulate Hazardous Materials shipping via railroads. We demand that they immediately issue an Emergency Order halting the hauling of any type of crude oil in the outdated and unsafe DOT 111 and DOT 111a railcars. By organizing a protest in your own city or state you will be joining in the growing movement to bring a halt to these explosive oil trains before the next city is vaporized, life is lost, or environment spoiled.

    The Department of Transportation has the authority to deem the DOT 111 and DOT 111a railcar fleet unsafe for hauling explosive crude oil yet they have been dragging their feet on taking real action. We demand they take immediate action. Each state has multiple regional DOT offices and we need protests at each one.

    Department of Transportation state/ regional offices and headquarters in Washington DC– https://fhwaapps.fhwa.dot.gov/foisp/staffnetStateDOT.do
    and

    Federal Railroad Administration regional offices — http://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0244
    Headquarters Washington DC Region 1 Cambridge, MA Region 2 Crum Lynne, PA Region 3 Atlanta, GA Region 4 Chicago, IL Region 5 Fort Worth, TX Region 6 Kansas City, MO Region 7 Sacramento, CA Region 8 Vancouver, WA

    4) Consider attending the Washington Oil Train Summit August 22-23, 2014 at Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. More info at http://washingtonoiltrainsummit.blogspot.com This summit will mainly be focused on solidifying the WA Oil Train Activists actions but we are inviting representatives from other groups to attend as well so that we can grow the International movement.

    Thanks Matt Landon with Vancouver Action Network vancouveractionnetwork.blogspot.com

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