Welcome to Transportation Law Today

Managed by Paul J. Loftus, a partner at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, Transportation Law Today provides professionals in the rail, transit, inland maritime, and trucking industries with current news and analysis of laws, rulings, and regulatory policies.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Railroads to Adopt Voluntary Crude By Rail Safety Initiative

A voluntary safety initiative addressing shipment of crude oil by rail has been announced by the USDOT and the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Under the voluntary initiative, major U.S. Railroads will agree to the following steps, outlined in the attached letter from USDOT Secretary, Anthony Foxx:

1. Effective March 25, 2014, one additional internal rail test (i.e. ultrasonic testing) will be conducted each year, and at least two track geometry inspections per year, on track over which crude traffic runs.

2. Route analysis requirements under 49 CFR 171.820(c) will apply to trains transporting 20 or more loaded tank cars carrying petroleum crude oil, which are to be termed "Key Crude Oil Trains."

3. Key Crude Oil Trains with at least one USDOT 111 type tank car, not meeting AAR Circular CPC-1232 requirements, will be restricted to 40 mph, effective July 1, 2014 or before.

4. By July 1, 2014 the participating railroads will have installed wayside defect detectors to detect overheated bearings at intervals of 40 miles, over which Key Crude Oil trains operate.

5. AAR and the railroads will develop an inventory of emergency response resources along the routes over which Key Crude Oil Trains operate.

6. Railroads are to agree to jointly fund $5 million for training emergency responders to rail accidents involving crude oil shipments.

Monday, February 17, 2014

PHMSA Cites 3 Shippers for Misclassified Crude Oil

As part of the on-going "Operation Classification" effort of the USDOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the agency recently announced it had cited three crude oil shippers for allegedly misclassifying crude oil shipped. According to PHMSA's announcement of the Notices of Probable Violation, the agency charges that 11 of 18 samples of crude being loaded onto rail cars were not assigned the proper packing group under the Hazardous Materials Regulations.

The Agency also notes the expansion of the scope of "Operation Classification" to gauge compliance with vapor pressure characterization, corrosiveness, and concentration of entrained gases in materials.

My prior post earlier this year, explains the creation of "Operation Classification" following several accidents involving crude oil shipped by rail.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

National Freight Advisory Committee to Meet February 6, 2014

The National Freight Advisory Committee will hold its latest meeting on February 6, 2014, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.(EST). A link to the agenda, including the ability to pre-register for Webinar access, is attached here. Web registrants are to complete their registrations by February 5.

The main topic of this meeting is for the NFAC members to prepare a joint comment on the USDOT's designation of the Primary Freight Network. The Primary Freight Network Designation draft has been prepared by the Federal Highway Administration, and the comment period is currently open until February 15, 2014 under docket FHWA-2013-0050,.

Created under MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act), the NFAC advises the USDOT Secretary on implementing MAP-21's call for a national freight network, developing a national freight strategic plan, and other things including legislative recommendations.