The derailment of two separate oil trains roughly two months apart near Guernsey, Sask., each spilling more than 300,000 gallons of crude onto the ground and one igniting into a smoldering inferno, plus the resulting 30-day mandatory speed limit on such trains imposed by Transport Canada (20 mph in urban areas, 25 mph elsewhere), have raised questions about not only the cause of those derailments, but also about the durability of the tank cars, and the volatility of the crude they were carrying. It should also raise questions, and awareness, about the transport of Canadian crude on the U.S. rail system.
There is bad news from Washington D.C. concerning federal support for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s (NFTA, Buffalo, N.Y.) proposed $1.4 billion Metro Rail Amherst Light Rail Extension project. According to the Federal Transit Administration New Starts Report for the upcoming Federal Fiscal Year 2021 (Oct. 1, 2020-Sept. 30, 2021), released earlier this month, the project did not qualify for a New Starts grant under the first step known as “Project Development.”
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a final rule—49 CFR Part 271 [Docket No. FRA–2009–0038, Notice No. 7] RIN 2130–AC11—launching the Risk Reduction Program (RRP) “to support an increasing standard of safety for the nation’s freight railroads.” The final rule is effective April 20, 2020.
On the heels of announcing new blockades on its network, CN revealed that it is supportive of the decision by Canada’s Transport Minister to amend the Ministerial Order issued on Feb. 7.
After each major crude oil train or hazardous commodity freight train accident anywhere in Canada or the United States, there is a rush of safety-related outcries. Quite a bit of fear is expressed. The poster children for rail freight safety are hazardous materials like crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG), which has been proposed. Yet to those who examine the evidence, rail freight is unquestionably the safest mode to ship these materials.
This is about a railroad labor union committed to serving its dues paying members, and a rail industry losing its core revenue traffic—coal—and now facing off against omnipresent low-cost, non-union truckers for the trailers and containers comprising much of the railroads’ future traffic base. It’s about new technology—the product of knowledge that for centuries has transformed the nature, quality and quantity of work. In this instance, the technology is Positive Train Control (PTC), a safety overlay system substituting artificial intelligence for engineer inattention or distraction. PTC, as does most new technology, creates job redundancies.
Reading & Northern Railroad (R&N) has resolved its amusement tax dispute with Jim Thorpe and will resume passenger rail service to and from Jim Thorpe this spring, with the first trips coming at Winterfest on Feb. 15.
Within the space of a week, CBR (crude by rail), as well a pipeline-transported oil, has mushroomed into one of Canada’s most pressing problems.
“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” — John Maynard Keynes
The Panel of the Mexican Federal Competition Commission (COFECE) published an excerpt of its final report regarding its assessment of effective competition, and found that 20 of 31 Kansas City Southern (KCS) routes under analysis lacked effective competition. KCS disagrees.