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DOT/PHMSA RIN: 2137-AE91 Publication ID: Fall 2014 
Title: Hazardous Materials: Enhanced Tank Car Standards and Operational Controls for High-Hazard Flammable Trains 

This rulemaking would amend proposes new operational requirements for certain trains transporting a large volume of flammable materials, provide improvements in tank car standards, and revise the generalmaterials improvements in tank car standards and revision of the general requirements for offerors to ensure proper classification and characterization of mined gases and liquids. These new requirements are designed to lessen the consequences of derailments involving ethanol crude oil and certain trains transporting a large volume of flammable materials. The growing reliance on trains to transport large volumes of flammable materials poses a significant risk to life property and the environment. These significant risks have been highlighted by the recent derailments of trains carrying crude oil in Casselton, North Dakota; Aliceville, Alabama; and Lac-Mégantic, Quebec Canada. The proposed changes also address National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations on accurate classification, enhanced tank cars, rail routing, oversight, and adequate response capabilities.

Agency: Department of Transportation(DOT)  Priority: Economically Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: Yes  Unfunded Mandates: Private Sector 
CFR Citation: 49 CFR 171    49 CFR 172    49 CFR 173    49 CFR 174    49 CFR 179   
Legal Authority: 49 USC 5101 et seq   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

This rulemaking is a crucial step by DOT to reduce the risks related to the transportation of hazardous materials by rail. Preventing tank car incidents and minimizing the consequences when an incident does occur are not only DOT priorities, but are also shared by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), industry, and the general public. These same groups also question the survivability of general service tank cars built to the current regulatory requirements. To this end, PHMSA will consider regulatory amendments to enhance the standards for tank cars, most notably, DOT Specification 111 tank cars used to transport certain hazardous materials and explore additional operational requirements to enhance the safe transportation of hazardous materials by rail.

Summary of the Legal Basis:

The authority of 49 U.S.C. 5103(b), which authorizes the Secretary of Transportation to “prescribe regulations for the safe transportation, including security, of hazardous materials in intrastate, interstate, and foreign commerce.”


PHMSA and FRA are committed to a comprehensive approach to addressing the risk and consequences of derailments involving hazardous materials by addressing not only survivability of rail car designs, but the operational practices of rail carriers. Obtaining information and comments in an NPRM provided the greatest opportunity for public participation in the development of regulatory amendments, and promote greater exchange of information and perspectives among the various stakeholders to promote future regulatory action on these issues.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

The NPRM requested comments on both the path forward and the economic impacts. We are evaluating comments prior to developing the final rule, and once the final rule is drafted the costs and benefits will be detailed.


DOT conducted research on long-standing safety concerns regarding the survivability of the DOT Specification 111 tank cars designed to current HMR requirements, and used for the transportation of flammable liquids. The research found that special consideration is necessary for the transportation of flammable liquids in DOT Specification 111 tank cars, especially when a train is configured as a unit train. Through the research, DOT identified and ranked several enhancements to the current specifications that would increase tank car survivability. The highest-ranked options are low cost and the most effective at preventing loss of containment and catastrophic failure of a DOT Specification 111 tank car during a derailment.

Action Date FR Cite
ANPRM  09/06/2013  78 FR 54849   
ANPRM Comment Period End  11/05/2013 
ANPRM Comment Period Extended  11/05/2013  78 FR 66326   
ANPRM Comment Period Extended End  12/05/2013 
NPRM  08/01/2014  79 FR 45015   
NPRM Comment Period End  09/30/2014 
Final Rule  03/00/2015 
Additional Information: HM-251; SB - Y, IC - Y, SLT - N; This rulemaking will provide the greatest opportunity for public participation in the development of regulatory amendments, and promote greater exchange of information and perspectives among the various stakeholders. The rulemaking will lead to more focused and well-developed amendments that reflect the views of all regulated entities. Comments received to the NPRM were used in our evaluation and development of future regulatory action on these issues.
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Information URL:   Public Comment URL:  
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Related Agencies: Common: DOT/FRA; 
Agency Contact:
Lad Falat
Director, Engineering and Research
Department of Transportation
Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE,
Washington, DC 20590
Phone:202 366-4545