UPDATE 1-Canada says unable to agree with U.S. on rail car brakes

Thu Mar 12, 2015 10:43am EDT
 
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(Adds context on brake issue)

OTTAWA, March 12 (Reuters) - Canada was unable to reach agreement with the United States on whether to require advanced braking systems in new oil tank cars, so the requirement was dropped from a draft of new Canadian tank-car standards, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said.

The proposed standards, published on Wednesday, did not include a requirement for electronically controlled pneumatic brakes, but the draft said braking requirements would be included in new operating rules.

The United States is expected to release its own standards, but the two countries have been working to harmonize requirements so they are likely to be very similar.

"We took it out of the tank-car standards and put it into operating rules," Raitt said of the braking requirements while speaking to reporters in Ottawa on Thursday. "We didn't get an agreement with the United States on that issue."

Reuters reported in February that the U.S. Transportation Department had recommended advanced braking systems be required on new tank cars. But the rail industry has been pushing the White House to drop the braking requirements, arguing they are too costly and would not significantly improve safety.

"That would be a big investment and that's a big change, and not necessarily something that we need to do right away because the jury is still out on whether or not it works," Raitt said.

The new tank-car standards are meant to prevent the fiery derailments that have happened across Canada and the United States in recent years as crude oil is increasingly shipped by rail as well as through pipelines. (Reporting by Mike De Souza; Writing by Allison Martell; Editing by Peter Galloway)