This is the Railway Association of Canada's response of Jan. 7, 2014, in response to questions from CBC News about the safety of DOT-111 tanker cars:

1) What is RAC's position on the need for enhanced standards for DOT-111 cars? (i.e., additional outer layers or "head shields," more impact-resistant tank steel, higher-capacity pressure relief valves, top fittings protection)

We support new standards for tank cars to be implemented as soon and as practically as possible.

Here’s a link to a release we put out in November on the topic. At the bottom, you’ll find a helpful fact sheet on tank cars.

2) Should these standards be applied to new, or new and existing DOT-111 tanker cars?

They would apply to new tank cars and existing tank cars – where a percentage (unknown) used in the transportation of flammable materials would be retrofitted to the new standard, while others may be used for non-flammable materials or simply retired. The estimated average cost of the upgrade is $30,000, according to the Railway Supply Institute.

3) Who should pay for these upgrades?

The owners of the cars would pay for the upgrade or new cars.

4) How many DOT-111's are owned by railways, versus the numbers of fleet cars owned by other leasing companies (in Canada and U.S.)?

The vast majority are owned by customers or leasing companies in North America:

  • About 75% of the tank car fleet is owned by leasing companies or their affiliates
  • Less than one per cent of the total, is owned by the six Class 1 freight railways;
  • The balance of the fleet is owned by a wide range of shippers involved in the energy and chemical industries, and others including short line and regional railways.

5) What are the challenges on implementing new standards across Canada and the United States?

The biggest challenges involve multiple owners and jurisdictions/regulators; cost, manufacturing and retrofitting capacity in North America. But, we are all working together with a common goal which is to improve safety by bringing a new standard to the market as soon as possible, and we are working with regulators on both sides of the border in a constructive fashion toward that end.

Alex Paterson
Communications Specialist
Railway Association of Canada