Friday, October 3, 2014
Greenbrier pushes for safer tank car fleet
Railroad equipment supplier Greenbrier Companies advocated for a safer tank car fleet in comments filed with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a company statement.
Greenbrier affiliate GBW Railcar Services also submitted comments to the agency regarding retrofitting the existing tank fleet. GBW is a new 50/50 joint venture with Watco Companies that retrofits and repairs railcars through a network of 38 North American shops.
Greenbrier's comments support the proposed PHMSA "Option 2" design for new tank cars in flammable service built after October 1, 2015. GBW’s comments focus on the PHMSA timeline to retrofit by 2020 all 98,000 existing tank cars in flammable service. GBW said it would open four facilities to help achieve the aggressive targets.
Greenbrier says its answer to Option 2, named the Tank Car of the Future, is designed for safer transportation of crude, ethanol and other flammables in North America as well as use with other hazardous materials traffic. It says the new design will hold 30,000 gallons, the same capacity volume as the DOT-111 tank car.
The car’s advanced safety features include a strengthened steel tank shell (9/16"thick), more robust top and bottom outlet protection and jacketed shells with thermal protection, according to the statement. The new design inhibits discharge of contents during a derailment, reduces penetration of the tank shell and will slow "pool fires" that can result when hazardous contents of a tank car escape in a breach and catch fire.
Greenbrier says at a derailment speed of 50 mph, the Conditional Probability of Release for their new design is more than eight times better compared to the least-protected DOT-111 legacy tank car. CPR measures the likelihood of tank car spills in a derailment at different speeds and by different car types.
"While it is impossible to eliminate all risk of accidents, it is our industry's responsibility to offer a safer tank car alternative. We are confident that the design features identified as 'Option 2' in the NPRM will lead to safer transport of flammable liquids at any speed," said Greg Saxton, senior vice president and chief engineer at Greenbrier.
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