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New Rules and New Investments for Railroads

Tightened Tank Cars
 
According to the Association of American Railroads (www.aar.org), the Department of Transportation has developed new rules to strengthen tank cars. Now, any tank car must be reinforced that is going to carry chemicals such as chlorine and anhydrous ammonia. These chemicals are referred to as TIH chemicals, or "toxic by inhalation.-
 
The goal behind the redesign is to ensure that the dangerous chemicals will not be released in case of an accident. To show they are serious about the safety and welfare of rail employees and the general public, the Department of Transportation enacted the new regulations.
 
Specifically, the new standards mean that all tank cars with TIH must be equipped with full head shields, and special safety mechanisms to lower the risk of tank car punctures in an accident or collision. Both thicker inner shells and thicker outer jackets will reduce the chance of substance release by up to 73 percent.
 
The Future of Freight
 
In a discussion about freight rail benefits and policy considerations, the New America Foundation presented the benefits of investing heavily in freight rail as part of their "Big Ideas- series. The "Back on Tracks Proposal- revealed that millions of trucks can be taken off American highways through a return to our country"s legacy, the rail. 
 
Freight rail has the potential to reduce energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, traffic congestion, and shipping costs. This in turn affects human health positively and the general quality of life for all Americans. Pollution from heavy trucks in California kills 1,500 citizens a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
 
With more infrastructure investment, the industry will have a better chance at long-term success. Perhaps states can be given the flexibility to invest in rail, or joint financing between public and private investors will ensue. To see more about the New America Foundation"s investment proposal, log on to www.newamerica.net.

By Chris Navarro
Get Railroad Jobs, Contributing Editor

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