Tuesday, January 21, 2014

RSI to SecDOT: Include us re: CBR

Written by 
RSI to SecDOT: Include us re: CBR Bruce Kelly

The Railway Supply Institute (RSI) is urging Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to include tank car manufacturers and other parties in any effort to improve tank car safety, particularly when related to crude-by-rail (CBR) developments.

In a letter dated Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 addressed to Foxx, RSI President Tom Simpson said, "According to published accounts of the Thursday, January 16, 2014 "Call to Action" meeting with your office concerning transportation of crude oil and ethanol by rail, the discussions resulted in new voluntary standards on rail safety that include "both energy and railroad interests agreeing on tougher train car standards within 30 days" (Politico Pro, January 16, 2014). Tank car manufacturer and owner representatives appear excluded from this activity.

Simpson continued, "In denying our January 10th request that representatives of tank car manufacturers and lessors participate in the Secretary's meeting, it was expressed to us that: 'The Secretary, PHMSA Administrator Cynthia Quarterman and FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo all understand the importance of including the Railway Supply Committee for Tank Cars in the discussion of newly built and modified DOT-111 tank cars. The Department will certainly reach out to [the Railway Supply Institute Committee for Tank Cars—RSICTC] when those issues are discussed as part of the PHMSA rulemaking and other DOT initiatives on crude oil and ethanol transportation safety. However, the purpose of the Call to Action Meeting scheduled for this week is to primarily focus on potential changes to railroad operations and material classification procedures.''

Simpson noted RSICTC "is comprised of American Railcar Industries, American Railcar Leasing, CIT Rail, GATX Corporation, General Electric Railcar Services Corporation, The Greenbrier Companies, Trinity Rail Group, LLC and Union Tank Car Company. As a group, the RSICTC represents the major North American tank car manufacturers and lessors, with our members owning and leasing approximately 70% of the North American tank car fleet. RSICTC is a large stakeholder in the outcome of a rulemaking that could affect both new built DOT-111 tank cars and the modification of existing DOT-111 tank cars. Tank car manufacturers and lessors petitioned PHMSA in March 2011 to adopt new safety standards.

RSI emphasized, "In spite of the Department's failure to take prompt action, we have voluntarily built all tank cars to the higher industry standard for orders placed after October 1, 2011, which when current orders are delivered will result in excess of 55,000 tank cars being built at a cost of more than $7 billion."

Simpson concluded, "Given the disconnect between the announced agenda for the meeting of January 16 and media reporting on the results thereof, we request the Department clarify the nature of the discussions actually undertaken, as well as the Department's revised plans to progress ruling under docket HM-251 should the results of the recent meeting mean any divergence from the normal rulemaking process. To exclude the actual manufacturers of tank cars and major lessors from this discussion, in our opinion, leaves out a vital player in the equation to speak for itself as we all strive to make our nation's railroads safer."