- The Washington Times - Friday, May 1, 2015

In response to a rash of recent crashes, U.S. and Canadian officials Friday announced new safety standards for rail cars transporting flammable liquids, including crude oil.

The regulations will require rail cars to be built with stronger materials so they’re able to withstand crashes, the two governments said. New braking standards also will be put in place for some trains.

The rules also lay out speed restrictions for some trains and require operators to provide more information to local governments along the route.

“Safety has been our top priority at every step in the process for finalizing this rule, which is a significant improvement over the current regulations and requirements and will make transporting flammable liquids safer,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “Our close collaboration with Canada on new tank car standards is recognition that the trains moving unprecedented amounts of crude by rail are not U.S. or Canadian tank cars — they are part of a North American fleet and a shared safety challenge.”

The updated standards come as an increasing amount of crude oil travels across the U.S. and Canada by rail, including fuel extracted from western Canada’s oil sands region and America’s Bakken oil field.

But frequent crashes have become a major concern for operators and regulators. There have been at least four train crashes in the U.S. and Canada just this year.

Perhaps the most notable crash took place in July 2013, when an oil train derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people.

Officials believe the standards announced Friday can prevent similar tragedies.

“This stronger, safer, more robust tank car will protect communities on both sides of our shared border,” said Canadian Minister of Transport Lisa Raitt.

Specifically, the rules require tank cars to now include an outer shell, a thermal lining inside and 9/16ths-inch steel walls specifically designed to withstand crashes.

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