[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 80 (Monday, April 27, 2015)]
[Pages 23321-23326]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-09614]



Federal Railroad Administration

[FRA Emergency Order No. 30, Notice No. 1]

Emergency Order Establishing a Maximum Operating Speed of 40 mph 
in High-Threat Urban Areas for Certain Trains Transporting Large 
Quantities of Class 3 Flammable Liquids

SUMMARY: FRA is issuing this Emergency Order (E.O. or Order) to require 
that trains transporting large amounts of Class 3 flammable liquid 
through certain highly populated areas adhere to a maximum authorized 
operating speed limit. FRA has determined that public safety compels 
issuance of this Order. This Order is necessary due to the recent 
occurrence of railroad accidents involving trains transporting 
petroleum crude oil and ethanol and the increasing reliance on 
railroads to transport voluminous amounts of those hazardous materials 
in recent years. Under the E.O., an affected train is one that 
contains: (1) 20 or more loaded tank cars in a continuous block, or 35 
or more loaded tank cars, of Class

[[Page 23322]]

3 flammable liquid; and, (2) at least one DOT Specification 111 (DOT-
111) tank car (including those built in accordance with Association of 
American Railroads (AAR) Casualty Prevention Circular 1232 (CPC-1232)) 
loaded with a Class 3 flammable liquid. Affected trains must not exceed 
40 miles per hour (mph) in high-threat urban areas (HTUAs) as defined 
in 49 CFR 1580.3.

DATES: Effective Date: This Order is effective immediately. Railroads 
shall immediately initiate steps to implement FRA Emergency Order No. 
30. Railroads shall complete implementation no later than April 24, 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ron Hynes, Director, Office of Safety 
Assurance and Compliance, Office of Railroad Safety, FRA, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, telephone (202) 493-6404; or, 
Thomas Herrmann, Assistant Chief Counsel for Safety, Office of Chief 
Counsel, FRA, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, 
telephone (202) 493-6036.
    Introduction: FRA has determined that public safety compels 
issuance of this E.O.. This Order sets the maximum authorized operating 
speed of 40 mph for certain trains transporting large quantities of 
Class 3 flammable liquids within HTUAs.\1\ FRA finds that this action 
is necessary as a result of the unique risks associated with the 
growing reliance on trains to transport large quantities of flammable 
liquids. The risk of flammability is compounded in the context of rail 
transportation because petroleum crude oil and ethanol are commonly 
shipped in large blocks or single commodity unit trains. Further, the 
differing tank cars currently available to transport petroleum crude 
oil and ethanol in this country have varying levels of protection, with 
the most commonly used tank cars having shown a propensity to puncture 
or otherwise release hazardous material that catches fire in the event 
of a derailment.

    \1\ HTUA is defined by the Transportation Security 
Administration as ``an area comprising one or more cities and 
surrounding areas include a 10-mile buffer zone, as listed in 
appendix A to [part 1580].'' 49 CFR 1580.3. Appendix A to part 1580 
lists the specific metropolitan areas within the United States that 
are considered HTUAs.

    DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration 
(PHMSA) has developed a final rule that will contain enhanced tank car 
standards for both new and existing tank cars and certain speed 
restrictions. Until those standards are issued, FRA believes that 
public safety dictates that an appropriate speed restriction be placed 
on trains containing large quantities of flammable liquid, particularly 
in areas where a derailment could cause a significant hazard of death, 
personal injury, or harm to the environment and property.
    Since the July 2013 derailment in Lac-M[eacute]gantic, Quebec, 
Canada, which demonstrated the consequences of a railroad accident 
resulting in the sudden release of flammable liquids, there have been 
numerous derailments in the United States involving trains transporting 
large quantities of crude oil and ethanol. Although none of these 
recent derailments resulted in the tragic loss of life that occurred as 
a result of the Lac-M[eacute]gantic derailment, the pattern of 
derailments and resulting hazardous material releases and fires 
involving tank cars transporting flammable liquids lead FRA to the 
conclusion that additional action is necessary in highly populated 
areas where any such derailment could result in catastrophic 
consequences. This action is being taken to eliminate an unsafe 
condition or practice, or a combination of such, causing an emergency 
situation involving the hazard of death, personal injury, or 
significant harm to the environment.
    This Order applies to:
    (1) Any train in the United States transporting 20 or more loaded 
tank cars in a continuous block, or containing 35 or more loaded tank 
cars, of Class 3 flammable liquid; and
    (2) Which contains at least one DOT-111 tank car (including those 
built to the CPC-1232 standard) loaded with Class 3 flammable liquid.
    FRA believes that only trains transporting large quantities of 
petroleum crude oil and ethanol (Class 3 flammable liquids described by 
DOT's Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR; 49 CFR parts 171 to 180)) 
will be affected by this Order as those are the only Class 3 flammable 
liquids transported in this quantity. FRA is ordering that any affected 
train adhere to a maximum authorized operating speed limit of 40 mph in 
HTUAs as defined in 49 CFR 1580.3.
    Authority: Authority to enforce Federal railroad safety laws has 
been delegated by the Secretary of Transportation to the Administrator 
of the FRA. 49 CFR 1.89. Railroads are subject to FRA's safety 
jurisdiction under the Federal railroad safety laws. 49 U.S.C. 20101, 
20103. FRA is authorized to issue emergency orders where an unsafe 
condition or practice, or a combination therof, ``causes an emergency 
situation involving a hazard of death, personal injury or significant 
harm to the environment . . . .'' 49 U.S.C. 20104(a). These orders may 
immediately impose ``restrictions and prohibitions . . . that may be 
necessary to abate the situation.'' Id.
    Background: In the last two years, DOT (including FRA and PHMSA) 
has taken numerous actions to address the safe transportation by rail 
of flammable liquids. Among other actions, DOT has issued three 
emergency orders \2\ and several safety advisories, has reached 
voluntary agreements with the railroad industry,\3\ and has undertaken 
several separate rulemaking proceedings to address the transportation 
and handling of trains transporting large quantities of flammable 
liquids. Notably, PHMSA, in cooperation with FRA, has formulated the 
final rule mentioned above that will address issues including a new HMR 
tank car standard and speed limits governing the transportation of 
large quantities of flammable liquids. The final rule will codify 
certain proposals contained in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) 
in the HM-251 rulemaking proceeding (79 FR 45016, Aug. 1, 2014).\4\ The 
final rule was submitted to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
for review pursuant to Executive Order 12866 on February 5, 2015 
(http://www.reginfo.gov/public). A chronology of certain DOT actions to 
address safe transportation of flammable liquids is listed on PHMSA's 
Internet Web site.\5\

    \2\ DOT Emergency Restriction/Prohibition Order, Docket No. DOT-
OST-2014-0067 (May 7, 2014); DOT Amended and Restated Emergency 
Restriction/Prohibition Order, Docket No. DOT-OST-2014-0025 (March 
6, 2014); and, FRA Emergency Order No. 28, 78 FR 48218, Aug. 2, 
    \3\ http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/letter-association-american-railroads.
    \4\ http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-08-01/pdf/2014-17764.pdf.
    \5\ http://phmsa.dot.gov/hazmat/osd/chronology.

    Despite efforts by DOT, the railroad industry, tank car 
manufacturers, and other interested parties, trains transporting large 
quantities of petroleum crude oil and ethanol continue to derail in 
this country. These derailments have resulted in the release of large 
quantities of hazardous material and subsequent fires. In addition to 
the 2013 Lac-M[eacute]gantic derailment mentioned above in which 47 
people were killed, numerous derailments involving crude oil unit and 
ethanol trains have occurred in this country. Three significant 
accidents have occurred domestically already in 2015 in Iowa, West 
Virginia, and Illinois, respectively.

2015 Accidents

    The following is an overview of the circumstance surrounding the 
most recent derailments involving trains

[[Page 23323]]

transporting large amounts of crude oil or ethanol that have occurred 
in 2015. FRA has not definitively established the probable causes of 
these accidents. Accordingly, nothing in this Order is intended to 
attribute definitive causes to these accidents, or to place 
responsibility for the accidents on the acts or omissions of any 
specific person or entity.
    On February 4, a southbound Canadian Pacific Railway Co. (CP) train 
consisting of three locomotives, 1 buffer car loaded with sand, and 80 
tank cars loaded with ethanol derailed near Dubuque, Iowa while 
traveling approximately 24 mph. As a result there was an ethanol spill, 
a fire, and at least two loaded tank cars came to rest on the frozen 
Mississippi River. Legacy DOT-111 cars were among the seven cars that 
released ethanol during the incident. One non-jacketed CPC-1232 car was 
punctured. It is estimated that approximately 53,000 gallons of ethanol 
was released as a result of the derailment.
    On February 16, 2015, a CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSX) train 
consisting of 109 tank cars loaded with crude oil derailed near Mt. 
Carbon, West Virginia. The train was en route to a shipping terminal in 
Yorktown, Virginia, and was transporting crude oil sourced from the 
Bakken region (Bakken oil) and traveling at an approximate speed of 33 
mph when 28 cars derailed. Two tank cars were punctured, thirteen cars 
experienced catastrophic thermal tears, and two cars released crude oil 
through their bottom outlet valves. Multiple fires and explosions 
occurred and emergency responders established a one-half mile 
evacuation zone, involving approximately 300 people. In all, the tank 
cars lost a total of almost 379,000 gallons of crude oil. All of the 
tank cars involved in this accident were CPC-1232 tank cars built 
between 2011 and 2013 and were non-jacketed tank cars.
    Most recently, on March 5, 2015, a BNSF Railway Co. (BNSF) train 
consisting of 103 tank cars also loaded with Bakken crude oil derailed 
near Galena, Illinois, resulting in a fire. The train was traveling at 
an approximate speed of 23 mph when 21 cars derailed. Seven cars 
experienced thermal tears, three cars released product through their 
bottom outlet valves, and two cars released product from their top 
fittings. All of the tank cars involved in this accident were 
constructed to the CPC-1232 standard, and were non-jacketed. FRA notes 
that no cars were punctured as a result of this derailment.
    In addition to the above-described incidents, previous publicized 
derailments resulting in releases of crude oil or ethanol and and/or 
resulting fires have occurred with increasing frequency (e.g., 
Casselton, North Dakota; Aliceville, Alabama; Lynchburg, Virginia; 
Columbus, Ohio; Cherry Valley, Illinois; Arcadia, Ohio; New Brighton, 
Pennsylvania). Since February 2015, an additional three incidents have 
occurred in Ontario, Canada, two of which involved trains transporting 
large quantities of petroleum crude in loaded CPC-1232 tank cars that 
were punctured, one of which occurred at a train speed of over 40 mph. 
Some of these recent accidents listed above that occurred prior to 2015 
have been the impetus for DOT regulatory actions, such as the recent 
DOT emergency orders and the HM-251 rulemaking proceeding mentioned 
above. Rail incidents involving crude oil have also been the subject of 
several National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigations and 
subsequent NTSB recommendations to DOT.

Tank Cars

    Traditionally, DOT-111 cars have been the primary type of tank cars 
used to transport large quantities of flammable liquids such as 
petroleum crude oil and ethanol in this country. Part 173 of the HMR 
authorizes the DOT-111 as a permissible packaging to transport ethanol 
and crude oil, as well as certain other low, medium, and high-hazard 
liquids and solids. DOT-111 cars are general purpose, non-pressure 
railroad tank cars. Subpart D of 49 CFR part 179 in the HMR establishes 
the design requirements for DOT-111 cars. Baseline (legacy) DOT 111 
tank cars have traditionally been designed to operate at a gross rail 
load of 263,000 pounds, and additional tank car protections intended to 
improve crashworthiness, such as head shields, jackets, and thermal 
protection systems, are optional features. DOT-111 cars are required to 
have a shell and head thickness of \7/16\''.
    However, there have been changes in railroad operations over the 
last several years that have impacted the use of DOT-111 cars to 
transport flammable liquids. These changes primarily include (1) 
increased DOT-111 traffic due the rapid increase in production levels 
of domestic energy products such as petroleum crude oil, (2) higher in-
train forces due to the transportation of hazardous materials in tank 
cars at higher gross rail loads (286,000 lbs.), and (3) the likelihood 
of tank cars accumulating more miles annually. This has resulted in 
tank car design modifications to accommodate these increased stresses 
and to reduce the chance of a catastrophic tank car failure.
    However, despite those efforts, a significant number of older, 
legacy DOT-111 tank cars remain in flammable liquid service. In the HM-
251 NPRM, DOT estimated that over 50,000 such non-jacketed DOT-111 cars 
(and an estimated 5,500 jacketed DOT-111 cars (79 FR 45025)) were still 
being used in crude oil and ethanol service as of August 2014.\6\ FRA 
is aware that the number of CPC-1232 and DOT-111 cars in crude oil 
service is variable, as new cars are currently being constructed and 
older cars are retired.

    \6\ Id.

    The NTSB has described DOT-111 tank cars as having ``. . . a high 
incidence of failure when involved in accidents,'' \7\ and has 
recommended that DOT update the design requirements for DOT-111 tank 
cars, including for use in crude oil and ethanol service 
specifically.\8\ The NTSB recommendations were made with the intent to 
enhance the cars' performance in accidents.\9\ The forthcoming HM-251 
rulemaking will address certain of these NTSB recommendations.

    \7\ Derailment of CN Freight Train U70691-18 With Subsequent 
Hazardous Materials Release and Fire, Cherry Valley, Illinois June 
19, 2009; NTSB Accident Report NTSB/RAR-12-01 (Feb. 14, 2012); 
    \8\ Id.
    \9\ Id.

    In 2011, the rail industry, through CPC-1232, adopted a new 
industry standard intended to improve the crashworthiness of newly-
constructed DOT-111 tank cars intended for use in crude oil and ethanol 
service. Cars built to the CPC-1232 standard are DOT-111 cars that are 
designed to operate at a gross rail load of 286,000 pounds, and include 
a thicker shell and head protection (\1/2\ height head shield, \1/2\'' 
thick shell and head thickness), are constructed with normalized steel, 
are constructed with top fittings protection, and with relief valves 
having a greater flow capacity as when compared to legacy DOT-111 cars. 
Additionally, some new tank cars constructed to the CPC-1232 standard 
are also jacketed and equipped with insulation and/or thermal 
protection. The jacket is \1/8\'' thick around the shell and \1/2\'' 
thick at the heads providing full-height head protection.
    Based on recent railroad accidents, the risk of additional future 
accidents, and the NTSB's findings that DOT-111 cars have a propensity 
to fail when involved in accidents, FRA has a safety concern regarding 
the continued use of a large number of DOT-111 cars to

[[Page 23324]]

transport large quantities of crude oil and ethanol, especially at 
higher speeds. Under current Federal regulations and applicable 
railroad industry practices, unit trains containing these older non-
jacketed DOT cars may travel in flammable liquid unit trains at up to 
50 mph in this country, and at speeds of up to 40 mph in populated 
urban areas under certain circumstances (as further discussed below).
    FRA's safety concern also extends to the newer CPC-1232 tank cars 
in light of recent incidents, especially those incidents occurring at 
higher speeds. FRA notes that a total of only five tank cars were 
punctured as a result of the 2015 accidents in Iowa and West Virginia. 
No CPC-1232 cars were punctured as a result the Galena, Illinois 
derailment, and only one CPC-1232 tank car was punctured as a result of 
the 2014 Lynchburg, Virginia, derailment (23 mph). However, these 
accidents indicate that the newer CPC-1232 cars will still release 
hazardous material which catches fire when the cars derail.

Train Speed

    Speed is a factor that may contribute to the severity of a 
derailment or the derailment itself. Speeds can influence the 
probability of an accident. A lower speed may allow for a brake 
application to stop a train before a collision, or allow a locomotive 
engineer to identify a safety problem and stop the train before an 
accident or derailment occurs. Higher speeds will increase the kinetic 
energy of an accident or derailment and the associated damage caused, 
resulting in a greater possibility of tank cars being punctured. For 
example, the unmanned train that derailed and caught fire in the Lac-
M[eacute]gantic derailment was believed to have been traveling at over 
60 mph at the time of the incident, resulting in approximately 59 tank 
car being breached. As explained in the HM-251 NPRM, if an accident 
occurs at 40 mph instead of 50 mph, DOT expects a reduction in kinetic 
energy of 36 percent. 79 FR 45046. As discussed above, the most recent 
derailment in the United States near Galena, Illinois, that occurred at 
23 mph resulted in no tank cars being punctured, and the 2014 Lynchburg 
derailment that occurred at a similar speed only resulted in one CPC-
1232 tank car puncture.
    Generally, with respect to operating speeds, FRA has developed a 
system of classification that defines different track classes based on 
track quality. The track classes include Class 1 through Class 9 and 
``excepted track.'' See 49 CFR 213.9 and 213.307. Freight trains 
transporting hazardous materials, including crude oil, operate at track 
speeds associated with Class 1 through Class 5 track and, in certain 
limited instances, at or below ``excepted track'' speeds (10 mph or 
less up to 80 mph). However, AAR design specifications effectively 
limit most freight equipment to a maximum allowable speed of 70 mph. 
The HMR contain speed restrictions on railroad cars transporting loads 
of certain hazardous materials, such as material poisonous-by-
inhalation. See, e.g., 49 CFR 174.86.
    In addition, the rail industry, through AAR, implements a detailed 
protocol on recommended operating practices for the transportation of 
hazardous materials. This protocol, set forth in AAR Circular No. OT-
55-N, August 5, 2013 (Circular) \10\ includes a 50 mph maximum speed 
for any ``key train.'' The Circular establishes that a key train 
includes any train with 20 or more loads of ``any combination of 
hazardous material.'' This definition includes trains affected by this 
Order that transport large quantities of petroleum crude oil and 
ethanol. In February 2014, by way of Secretary of Transportation 
Anthony Foxx's letter to AAR,\11\ the major railroads in this country 
voluntarily committed to a lower 40-mph speed limit for trains 
containing one or more legacy DOT-111 tank cars (or one non-DOT 
specification car) and transporting large quantities of crude oil 
within the limits of any HTUA as defined by the regulations of the 
Transportation Security Administration.

    \10\ http://www.boe.aar.com/CPC-1258%20OT-55-N%208-5-13.pdf.
    \11\ http://www.dot.gov/briefing-room/letter-association-american-railroads.

    In addition, FRA is aware that the nation's second largest freight 
railroad, BNSF, recently took steps to lower the speeds of key trains 
in populated areas. BNSF recently amended its railroad rules to require 
that key trains traveling within large municipal areas travel no more 
than 35 mph, or an even lower speed and in more locations than they, 
other Class I railroads, AAR, and some short line railroads committed 
to in response to Secretary Foxx's February 2014 letter described 
    PHMSA requested public comment on appropriate speed limits for 
trains transporting large quantities of certain flammable liquids in 
the HM-251 NPRM, and will address train speeds in the forthcoming final 
rule. As discussed above, PHMSA will also address updated tank car 
standards as related to the transportation of flammable liquids by 
rail. However, any lowered speed requirements in the forthcoming PHMSA 
rule will not be applicable until the effective date of the final rule. 
In the interim, FRA believes that further action is necessary to ensure 
public safety.
    While FRA applauds the industry for its voluntary commitments 
related to speed reductions, FRA believes that it is necessary for it 
to require that the existing industry commitments be applied to all 
trains carrying large quantities of Class 3 flammable liquids, 
including those transporting newer CPC-1232 cars. FRA believes that 
immediately lowering maximum train speeds in HTUAs to all trains 
carrying large quantities of flammable liquids will help to mitigate 
the potential effects of future accidents should they occur in a highly 
populated area. Despite the efforts of all stakeholders, these 
accidents continue to occur on a regular basis. While accidents 
involving affected trains have recently occurred at speeds below 40 
mph, FRA anticipates that the reduction in maximum speed for certain 
trains carrying large volumes of flammable liquid in higher risk areas 
based on the type of tank car being used may prevent fatalities and 
other injuries and damages, and limit the amount of environmental 
damage that would likely result were an accident to occur in one of 
these densely populated areas. HTUA's encompass locales where, were a 
derailment to occur, there is a greater chance that a catastrophic loss 
of human life could occur than in other less populated areas. Further, 
by limiting speeds for certain higher risk trains, FRA also hopes to 
reduce in-train forces related to acceleration, braking, and slack 
action that are sometimes the cause of derailments.\12\ FRA believes 
these restrictions are necessary until the HM-251 final rule is issued 
and becomes effective.

    \12\ See, e.g., FRA Report to the Senate Committee on Commerce, 
Science and Transportation and the House Committee on Transportation 
and Infrastructure: Safe Placement of Train Cars (June 2005).

    FRA's approach here is based on longstanding concerns regarding the 
crashworthiness of legacy DOT-111 cars, as evidenced by NTSB and FRA 
investigations of derailments involving trains consisting of large 
blocks or unit trains of tank cars containing flammable liquids. A 
recent FRA study, involving a tank car puncture model validated by full 
scale testing was conducted at the Transportation Technology Center in 
Pueblo, Colorado.\13\ The study evaluated the relative performance of a 
variety of DOT-111 tank cars, including those that are the subject of 
this E.O. In addition, a soon to be released report issued in March 
2015 by Sharma & Associates,

[[Page 23325]]

Inc. to FRA, addressed the reduction in tank car puncture probabilities 
based on changes to tank car designs or the tank car operating 
environment. FRA expects to post this report to its Web site in the 
near future. The report discusses the fact that tank cars are exposed 
to a wide range of hazards during derailments that affect the outcomes. 
It also discusses the assumption that higher derailment speeds tend to 
lead to ``more cars derailing as well as higher magnitudes of forces, 
and thereby, a higher probability of puncture.'' The study estimated 
derailment impacts at 30, 40, and 50 mph, respectively, as applied to 
tank cars equipped with varying protections. The results of the study 
indicate more likely tank car punctures occur as accident speeds 

    \13\ http://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/details/L15900#p6_z50_gD; 

    Accordingly, FRA is limiting speeds for affected trains to 40 mph. 
Recent accidents involving unit trains of crude oil indicate that these 
legacy DOT-111 cars are prone to punctures, tears, and hazardous 
material releases when involved in accidents. Newer tank cars built to 
the CPC-1232 standard have more robust protections than do legacy DOT-
111 tank cars. However, recent incidents have shown that those cars 
will still release hazardous material when involved in derailments. 
Thus, FRA is also limiting the speed for affected trains transporting 
CPC-1232 cars to 40 mph or less. While past accidents have shown that 
there still may be hazardous material releases when derailments occur 
at less than 40 mph, FRA believes this speed restriction will 
substantially mitigate the effects of any accidents as when compared to 
accidents that occur at higher speeds.
    To formulate the speed limitation for certain trains, FRA balanced 
the need to alleviate an emergency situation involving a hazard of 
death, personal injury, or significant harm to the environment against 
the impacts speed limitations may have on efficient rail transportation 
in this country. An analysis of certain speed restrictions below 40 mph 
indicated that such restrictions could potentially cause harmful 
effects on interstate commerce, and actually increase safety risks. 
Increased safety risks could occur if speed restrictions cause rail 
traffic delays resulting in trains stopping on main track more often 
and in trains moving into and out of sidings more often requiring more 
train dispatching. Increased safety risks could also occur if shippers 
offer more affected trains onto the rail network to maintain constant 
inventories to offset train delays. FRA also evaluated speed 
restrictions in the context of potential delays to passenger rail 
service. FRA believes the restriction in this Order will address an 
emergency situation while avoiding other safety impacts and harm to 
interstate commerce and the flow of necessary goods to the citizens of 
the United States. FRA and DOT will continue to evaluate whether 
additional action with regard to train speeds is appropriate.
    The speed restriction in this Order applies to trains transporting 
DOT-111 and CPC-1232 cars that pose dangers in a derailment. In seeking 
the appropriate approach to ensure safety, FRA has also limited this 
Order's applicability to only those trains transporting large 
quantities of flammable liquids. This Order will primarily apply to 
unit trains only. Further, this Order would have applied to all of the 
recent incidents described above involving unit trains transporting 
petroleum crude oil and ethanol. This Order's threshold ensures that 
FRA is focusing on the highest risk shipments and not unnecessarily 
imposing safety-related burdens on lesser risks that do not represent 
the same safety and environmental concerns.
    Findings and Order: Due to the recently increasing volume of 
petroleum crude oil, and consistently high volume of ethanol being 
shipped by railroads in recent years, the numerous recent rail 
accidents involving trains transporting these hazardous materials to 
occur, and the subsequent releases of large quantities of crude oil 
into the environment and the imminent hazard those releases present to 
human life and the environment, this Order is requiring that each 
railroad carrier in this country adhere to the below-described maximum 
speed limit when operating certain trains containing large quantities 
of Class 3 flammable liquid.
    The transportation of hazardous materials by rail is extremely 
safe, and the vast majority of hazardous materials shipped by rail each 
year arrive at their destinations without incident. However, FRA finds 
that there are gaps in the existing regulatory scheme that create an 
emergency situation involving a hazard of death, personal injury, or 
significant harm to the environment, with respect to the speed at which 
trains transporting large quantities of certain flammable liquids are 
currently operated and the crashworthiness of the tank cars being used 
to transport those materials. The risks are magnified when less robust 
tank cars are used to transport large quantities of flammable liquids. 
As evidenced by recent accidents, even affected trains traveling at 
lower speeds have accidents with a propensity to result in fires and 
the release of large quantities of hazardous material.
    To mitigate the effects of future accidents and to prevent others 
from occurring, and pursuant to the authority of 49 U.S.C. 20104, 
delegated to the FRA Administrator by the Secretary of Transportation 
(49 CFR 1.89), effective immediately, this Order requires that certain 
trains identified below must not exceed 40 mph while operating within 
High Threat Urban Areas. This Order applies to:
    (1) Any train in the United States transporting 20 or more loaded 
tank cars in a continuous block, or containing 35 or more loaded tank 
cars, of Class 3 flammable liquid; and
    (2) Which contains at least one DOT-111 tank car (including those 
built to the CPC-1232 standard) loaded with Class 3 flammable liquid.
    A High Threat Urban Area is as defined by 49 CFR 1580.3. A Class 3 
flammable liquid is as described by Sec.  173.120 of the HMR. A Class 3 
flammable liquid includes the hazardous materials described by Sec.  
172.101 of the HMR as UN 1267, petroleum crude oil, 3, PG I, II, or 
III, and UN 3475, Ethanol and gasoline mixture, 3, PG II, or UN 1287, 
Denatured alcohol, 3, PG II or III. For purposes of this Order, a Class 
3 flammable liquid includes petroleum crude oil that might otherwise be 
reclassified as a combustible liquid under Sec.  173.150 of the HMR. A 
DOT-111 car means a jacketed or non-jacketed tank car built to the 
specification established by subpart D of part 179 of the HMR, but not 
meeting the standard established by CPC-1232. A CPC-1232 car is a 
jacketed or non-jacketed DOT-111 tank car built to the CPC-1232 
standard. A ``train'' for purposes of this order is as defined by 49 
CFR 232.5. This Order will remain in effect until the effective date of 
the HM-251 final rule (Docket No. PHMSA-2012-0082; RIN 2137-AE91).
    Relief: Petitions for special approval to take actions not in 
accordance with this Order may be submitted to the Associate 
Administrator for Railroad Safety and Chief Safety Officer (Associate 
Administrator), who is authorized to dispose of those requests without 
needing to amend this Order. When reviewing any petition for special 
approval, the Associate Administrator shall grant petitions only when a 
petitioner has clearly articulated an alternative action that will 
provide, in the Associate Administrator's judgment, at least a level of 
safety equivalent to that provided by this Order. This Order will be 
supplanted and terminated upon the effective date of the HM-251 final 
rule (Docket No. PHMSA-2012-0082; RIN 2137-AE91).

[[Page 23326]]

    Penalties: Any violation of this Order shall subject the person 
committing the violation to a civil penalty of up to $105,000. 49 
U.S.C. 21301. Any individual who willfully violates a prohibition 
stated in this order is subject to civil penalties under 49 U.S.C. 
21301. In addition, such an individual whose violation of this order 
demonstrates the individual's unfitness for safety-sensitive service 
may be removed from safety-sensitive service on the railroad under 49 
U.S.C. 20111. FRA may, through the Attorney General, also seek 
injunctive relief to enforce this order. 49 U.S.C. 20112.
    Review: Opportunity for formal review of this Order will be 
provided in accordance with 49 U.S.C. 20104(b) and 5 U.S.C. 554. 
Administrative procedures governing such review are found at 49 CFR 
part 211. See 49 CFR 211.47, 211.71, 211.73, 211.75, and 211.77.

    Issued in Washington, DC.
Sarah Feinberg,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2015-09614 Filed 4-24-15; 8:45 am]