Dispute Continues Over Rail Car Safety Improvements

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On the heels of a Canadian train derailment that led to the deaths of 47 people, a report has come out which looks at the fight between rail industry groups and the current administration.  The administration wants to adopt new rules that would retrofit certain railcars with safety measures that would prevent a breach in the event of a crash, while rail groups contend such a measure would be costly and potentially compromise safety further.

Some believe that the rail group’s stance is disingenuous.  The city of Barrington, Illinois, itself no stranger to rail accidents, explains that, without retrofitting, citizens would not be afforded any additional protection for decades due to those tanks still being widely used for years to come.  Barrington resides in an area near where an Illinois train derailment occurred in 2009.

The Association of American Railroads wants to see all cars made after October 2011 meet the new safety requirements.  But the plan the administration is currently mulling would go much further, retrofitting cars used to transport oil and combustible liquids.  The car in question has a soda-can shape and is called the DOT-111.  Unfortunately, this shape could make the car susceptible to being torn apart when a derailment takes place.

That’s exactly what happened in 40 crashes that the Associated Press was able to uncover from 2000 onward.  The new rule governing these cars was set to come out last October but has been delayed while the government seeks further input from industry groups and the public at large.