September 9, 2014 / 1:53 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-U.S. proposes rules to prevent runaway trains packed with explosive goods

(Adds detail of proposals, link to rule)

By Ros Krasny

WASHINGTON, Sept 9 (Reuters) - U.S. authorities on Tuesday proposed measures to prevent unattended freight trains from causing accidents, the latest of several steps meant to improve oil train safety after a string of serious mishaps in the United States and Canada.

Among other things the rules would prevent trains transporting specific hazardous materials from being left unattended on a mainline track or side track outside a railyard, and call for secure locks to be installed on locomotive doors to prevent unauthorized access.

The Federal Railroad Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, said its proposed rule would make permanent many requirements in place on an emergency basis following the deadly Lac-Megantic accident in Quebec in July 2013.

In that case, an unattended 74-car train carrying crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch became unsecured and rolled 7 miles down the tracks before derailing and exploding, killing 47 people and flattening the surrounding area.

“This rule making will solidify our existing securement regulations and provide additional safeguards against the rolling of unattended freight trains,” Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo said in a statement.

The proposal will be open to public comment until Nov. 10. The agency also said it would consider a public hearing.

The United States and Canada have taken multiple measures to improve rail safety since Lac-Megantic and other incidents as the U.S. shale oil production boom has resulted in increasing amounts of crude moving by rail.

In July the U.S. DOT proposed extensive new safety rules for hauling crude oil by rail. The public comment period for those rules ends this month.

For the FRA's proposed rule including its cost/benefit analysis, see: here

Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Bill Trott and Meredith Mazzilli

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