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Friday, May 01, 2015

Time for a New Tank Car: the DOT-117

Today, Transport Canada and the US Department of Transportation announced new standards for tank cars. The DOT-111 design has been roundly criticized for being unable to withstand the impacts sustained during a derailment. Even modified versions of the design proved inadequate, as this winter's derailments near Gogama demonstrated: both featured retrofitted cars.

The new design, dubbed the TC-117 or DOT-117, features more robust a heat-resistant construction, better shielding at both ends and stronger valves to prevent liquids from spilling in case of a derailment. This handy-dandy infographic shows off the new design. For those of you with detailed knowledge of car construction and engineering (so, that means not me!), Transport Canada has also posted the full nuts-and-bolts details.

As to whether the new design will work or not, only time will tell. The Transportation Safety Board has reserved comment for now, while CP has welcomed the new design.

Rail remains a safe way to transport most things, but rolling stock designs must keep up with changes in the commodities they will be carrying.

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