Union Pacific Comments Regarding PHMSA Proposed Rule Making

Safety is Union Pacific's top priority and the railroad supports the Department of Transportation's (DOT) efforts to reduce the risks of transporting certain flammable materials as long as the safety benefits justify the costs. Union Pacific's goal is to ensure that all hazardous materials arrive at their destination without incident. Earlier this year, Union Pacific joined the rail industry in promoting enhanced tank car standards and applying more restrictive operating practices to trains carrying crude oil.

As it considers new rules governing the transportation of flammable liquids, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) asked the railroad industry and other stakeholders to provide feedback on its proposal. Union Pacific filed its comments on Sept. 30, 2014.

While UP supports the goal of increasing the safety of flammable liquid transportation, some of the changes under consideration would have far-reaching and unintended negative consequences for the U.S. economy, railroads, their employees and the thousands of companies who are railroad customers. 

Among others, Union Pacific's comments include:

  • PHMSA should impose a 40 mph speed restriction through high-threat urban areas (HTUA) for trains covered by this rule.
  • DOT should not impose a uniform national speed limit because it would degrade America's railroad network fluidity, shift freight traffic and risk to over-the-road trucks and other transportation modes, and impose excessive implementation costs.
  • Electronically controlled pneumatic brakes are not a feasible requirement because they do not deliver significantly greater safety benefits than distributed power
Similar concerns were echoed in several of the other responses to the proposal, including the comments from the Association of American Railroads. Given the enormous practical consequences of this rule making, UP urges PHMSA to ground its actions on the basis of sound cost-benefit analysis.