Standards - Tank Car Resource Center

STANDARDS

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Tank Car Standards in North America

THE RSICTC PROVIDES INFORMATION TO REGULATORS AND LEGISLATORS FOR CONSIDERATION IN THE RULEMAKING PROCESS

Tank car standards are updated after reviews of performance data conclude that new tank car standards will improve the safety of transporting hazardous materials by rail. In recent history, the industry focused on improving the performance of tank cars used to transport flammable liquids (primarily crude oil and ethanol). Standards are particularly important for regulated hazardous materials, or “HazMat’s,” that fall into two key categories: flammable liquids and toxic inhalation hazards.

Flammable Liquids Tank Car Standards

Voluntary "Good Faith" Efforts: AAR CPC-1232

IN RESPONSE TO FLAMMABLE LIQUID UNIT TRAIN DERAILMENTS, THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN RAILROADS (AAR) PROPOSED IMPROVEMENTS TO DESIGN STANDARDS FOR DOT-111 TANK CARS

In August 2011, the AAR Tank Car Committee published a new interchange standard, known as CPC-1232, to improve the crashworthiness of tank cars shipping petroleum crude oil and denatured alcohol (ethanol). The new standard required thicker steel shells for non-jacketed tanks and normalized (heat treated) tank heads and shells, head protection and top fittings protection. The requirement took effect for all cars ordered after October 1, 2011. Much of the basis for these improvements was the result of the analysis of design features made possible by the RSI/AAR Tank Car Safety Research Project. Railway Supply Institute members built approximately 55,000 tank cars to this voluntary standard, investing nearly $8 billion. While they are still technically DOT-111, they are referred to as “CPC-1232” to reflect the new industry design requirements. 


Read the full text of the AAR interchange standard for CPC-1232 M-1002 Chapter 2 Revision 9/2011, that the industry voluntarily implemented in September 2011.


DOT Regulation: HM-251

RSICTC ADVOCATED FOR U.S. DOT REGULATION HM-251, WHICH REVAMPED TANK CAR STANDARDS IN 2015

Notwithstanding the industry’s voluntary adoption of the CPC-1232 standard in October 2011, three and a half years later, in May 2015 the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued the first major government modification to the DOT-111 tank car standard in years. Under HM-251, the government issued DOT-117 standard was not required for all tank cars used to transport flammable liquids. The industry believed this scope was inadequate, because shippers could not always predict the type of train in which its shipment would be operated. Railway Supply Institute and AAR proactively worked with Congress to ultimately pass the FAST Act of 2015, described below, which clarified the applicability of the HM-251 requirements. Among other important changes, it resulted in the creation of a new, DOT-117 design standard for tank cars in flammable liquids service. The RSICTC and other industry stakeholders had been calling for a change like this for more than five years.

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New Law: The FAST Act

IN DECEMBER 2015, CONGRESS PASSED THE FAST ACT, WHICH REVISED THE SCOPE OF HM-251 STANDARDS FOR TANK CARS IN FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS SERVICE

Title VII of the FAST Act extended the HM-251 design requirements on all tank cars in flammable liquids service irrespective of train composition (HHFT or HHFUT) and set specific deadlines for the phase out of legacy DOT-111 and CPC-1232 tank cars by commodity. Crude oil and ethanol were prioritized in the phase-out schedule as they are the flammable liquids most likely to be transported via unit trains. Title VII also mandated that all tank cars to be retrofitted with jackets also be equipped with ½-inch thick thermal blankets and required that the legacy DOT-111 be modified to meet specific top fittings protection requirements.

As a result of the FAST Act, car owner-lessors, shippers and the railroads have a clear and measurable understanding of the requirements for implementing new design requirements for tank cars in flammable liquid service.

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Tank Car Videos

SEE ANIMATED VIDEOS OF TANK CAR TECHNOLOGIES IN ACTION

RSICTC members spent decades researching and developing new technologies to advance tank car standards, including: tank shells, tank jackets, head shields, thermal protection systems, top fittings, bottom outlet valves and others. The following videos provide 60-second overviews of the technology that can be found on new DOT 117 standard tank cars.

TANK CAR TECHNOLOGY

HEAD SHIELD

TANK SHELL

THERMAL PROTECTION

TANK JACKET

BOTTOM OUTLET VALVE & TOP FITTING PROTECTION

Toxic Inhalation Hazards (TIH)

New Proposals for TIH

RSICTC IS WORKING WITH INDUSTRY STAKEHOLDERS TO ADVANCE STANDARDS OF TANK CARS IN TIH SERVICE

Over the last decade, there has been significant, ongoing research to develop strategies for improving railroad tank cars so they can maintain tank integrity under more severe accident conditions. Beginning in 2006 and continuing through 2009, Dow Chemical Company, Union Pacific Railroad and Union Tank Car Company assembled a joint project team to drive forward a holistic process for the development of a next generation rail tank car. This work was performed under the Next Generation Railroad Tank Car (NGRTC) Program and completed in cooperation with Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Transport Canada and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The NGRTC program developed a database of both full-scale impact testing on tank cars and tank heads as well as a significant database on characterization of tank car materials and laboratory scale component tests. An additional effort in the NGRTC Program was the development and validation of detailed finite-element tank impact models and tank car steel constitutive and failure models that can be used to accurately predict the puncture resistance under different impact conditions. During this same time period, the Chlorine Institute (CI) commissioned a series of investigations to quantify and enhance the puncture resistance of tank cars carrying hazardous materials. Read More


In response to a proposed rulemaking, industry stakeholders (including the RSI) petitioned PHMSA for an interim standard based on “Probability of Release.” Read the proposal.


The Advanced Tank Car Collaborative Research Project improved the industry’s understanding of impacts and puncture behavior during derailments but did not identify any new technical solutions to improve tank car puncture resistance. Read the conclusions.


Based on the ATCCRP Research Conclusions, Industry stakeholders (including the RSI) petitioned PHMSA to make the interim standard (HM-246) a permanent standard for TIH service.


Immediately following the ATCCRP Petition for a Final TIH Specification the AAR petitioned PHMSA for a six-year phase out of the legacy TIH Fleet, including a two-year phase-out of non-normalized TIH tank cars.

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