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Rep. Lipinski Welcomes New Rail Tank Car Standards to Improve Safety (May 1, 2015)

As a representative of a district at the center of America’s rail network and a member of the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee of the House Transportation Committee, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) welcomed the announcement of new regulations for rail tank cars carrying crude oil and ethanol.  The new rules were unveiled today in a joint announcement by U.S. and Canadian regulators.

The new rules, which will align with Canada’s standards, require thicker steel shells, gauge jackets, thermal protection, improved pressure relief valves, and additional head shielding for rail tank cars transporting oil, ethanol, and other flammables liquids.  Other changes include reduced operating speeds in high threat urban areas and improved rail routing to reduce risks.  Existing cars will have to be retrofitted with the same items and the retrofit/replacement schedule is on a risk based basis, focusing on the tank cars carrying the most volatile materials first.

“I will continue to fight to make our rail communities as safe as possible,” said Rep. Lipinski.  “These new standards are definitely a step in the right direction.  After seeing a number of terrible oil train incidents over the past few years, it is imperative that the Department of Transportation be more proactive when it comes to the safety of the American people and the future of this vital industry.  It is my hope that in the coming months and years more action will be taken on this critical issue, including additional support for my ongoing efforts to improve first responder training and technology on these rail cars.”

Last month, Lipinski introduced the Reassuring Adequate Investment in Lifesaving Systems (RAILS) Act, which would reauthorize the Rail Safety Technology Grant program to improve the safety of our nation’s railroads.  The bill would authorize $1 billion over the next five years for positive train control technology, rail integrity inspections, and e-manifest systems for hazardous material shipments, among other rail safety investments.

Congressman Lipinski is the most senior member from Illinois on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, serving on three subcommittees: Aviation; Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials; and Highways and Transit.