11 September 2007 00:27 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (ICIS news)--Planning the US transition to safer new rail cars will require a grassroots solution, possibly even with funding at the local government level, Chip Nottingham, chairman of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) said on Monday.
“The best planning is from the local government,”
Chemical companies, tank car manufacturers and regulators are working on a new tank car standard for hazardous materials cargoes. The new tank cars may be ready for roll-out across the industry within two years, but it has not yet been decided how the transition will be funded.
“It’s a challenge that the whole country faces, which is the enormous infrastructure investments needed for the rail sector,” he said.
He said the STB, as a regulator, does not take a position on proposed legislation. But he said one proposal currently being considered for funding the transition to safer cars is a railroad infrastructure tax.
Another possible solution could include public-private partnerships. The
For the private sector, part of the cost of converting to the new cars could be borne by lower insurance premiums, which are currently so high that some shippers have indicated they don’t want to handle hazardous materials at all.
“They can’t turn down customers but they don’t want to pay the high insurance premiums,”
Rerouting of rail lines is a separate federal mandate approved earlier this year that requires railroads to consider building new hazardous materials routes outside the main population areas.
“Our number one concern is public safety,” said Joe Arbona, director of public affairs for Union Pacific Railroad. “One problem with re-routing is that that the distance becomes longer, which may not be safer.”
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