March 27, 2015

Fuel-hauling trains could derail at 10 per year

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The federal government predicts that trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades, causing more than $4 billion in damage and possibly killing hundreds of people if an accident happens in a densely populated part of the U.S. The projection comes from a [...]

Tankers in W. Va. explosion were newer, safer model

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The railroad cars involved in the fiery derailment in West Virginia on Monday were a newer model that was supposed to be safer than older tankers blamed in other recent oil train explosions. The ruptured cars were built to specifications adopted by the railroad industry in 2011 amid criticism that older tankers were dangerously susceptible [...]

Oil train spills hit record level in 2014

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American oil trains spilled crude oil more often in 2014 than in any year since the federal government began collecting data on such incidents in 1975, an NBC News analysis shows. The record number of spills sparked a fireball in Virginia, polluted groundwater in Colorado, and destroyed a building in Pennsylvania, causing at least $5 [...]

BNSF Railway re-evaluates plan for safer cars

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BNSF Railway Co., the railroad owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), is reconsidering a plan to buy 5,000 oil-tank cars built to new safety standards after some customers voiced concern about the initiative. “At first everybody applauded us for doing it,” BNSF Chairman Matt Rose said today during a panel discussion in Washington [...]

Low oil prices unlikely to hurt railroads much

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OMAHA, Neb. – The stunning collapse in oil prices won’t derail the railroads’ profit engine, even if it does slow the tremendous growth in crude shipments seen in recent years. Carloads of crude oil spiked well over 4,000 percent between 2008 and last year — from 9,500 carloads to 435,560 — as production boomed and [...]

Budget bill sets Jan. deadline for rule on oil tank cars

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Hidden away in Congress’ big spending bill, designed to fund the federal government through FY 2015, are stern marching orders to the U.S. Department of Transportation: Deliver a final rule for new, safer oil tank car design standards by Jan. 15, 2015, and require that all rail carriers put in place comprehensive oil spill response [...]

Can oil price declines end railroads’ bull run?

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Crude oil hit its five year low price on Monday, Dec. 8, under pressure from growing production in the U.S. and the unwillingness of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut production. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. crude benchmark, declined 4.3 percent to $63.05 per barrel and Brent crude, which reflects the global market, [...]

Oil trains, pipelines and tanker ships

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Everyone nowadays seems to either love or hate “fracking” for oil and natural gas in U.S. shale formations. But fracking enjoys an enviable safety record. After all, a large fraction of it is done a mile underground. Not much, if any, evidence of groundwater contamination has been found at fracking sites. Read the complete story [...]

Spending bill provisions for Amtrak, railroads

According to The Washington Post, a $1.01 trillion spending bill that will keep most of the federal government funded through September retains Amtrak’s current funding of $1.39 billion, the same amount it currently receives. It also provides $3 million to expand inspections along the roughly 14,000 miles of track used by trains hauling oil tankers. To view the [...]

Despite price drop, crude by rail remains big issue

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The drop in the price of oil since OPEC failed in its meeting last week to agree on production cuts has sparked speculation about whether production in North Dakota’s Bakken shale region will decline as some marginal drilling operations become financially less viable. Some market observers see the drop in the price of railroad stocks [...]