More Rail Tank Cars Meet DOT-117 Safety Standards in 2022
In accordance with the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) released its Fleet Composition of Rail Tank Cars Carrying Class 3 Flammable Liquids: 2023 Report.
Ethanol fleet reaches 80% adoption of DOT-117 tank cars in 2022
Phase-Out Targets and Dates for Rail Tank Cars Carrying Class 3 Flammable Liquids
- All cars carrying crude oil met the phase out deadline.
- All tank cars carrying ethanol need to meet 2023 phase-out deadlines. Census results show that this is an achievable milestone.
- All tank cars carrying Class 3 flammable liquids will need to meet DOT-117 or equivalent specifications by May 1, 2029.
The report discusses the progress in upgrading the rail tank car fleet to the DOT-117 standard, which meets new safety requirements, and summarizes the types of rail tank cars carrying Class 3 flammable liquids. There is a rolling phase-out schedule of tank cars based on both tank car type and flammable liquids carried. In 2022, 59% of all rail tank cars carrying Class 3 flammable liquids were built to the new DOT-117 or DOT-117R specification.
Inventory of Rail Tank Cars Carrying Class 3 Flammable Liquids
There were no phase-out deadlines in 2022. The next major deadline was in May and July of 2023, when all DOT-111 and CPC-1232 tank cars were prohibited from carrying ethanol. Compliance with the phase-outs in 2023 will be evaluated in the 2024 report. A large proportion (80%) of ethanol-carrying cars in 2021 already met the new DOT-117 standards. There were 7,461 tank cars carrying ethanol in DOT-111 and CPC-1232 tank cars which are due to be replaced with DOT-117 cars.
Survey results indicate that 6,914 DOT-117 and DOT-117R tank cars are projected to be built or retrofitted in 2023.
In 2022, 100,393 rail tank cars were used to carry Class 3 flammable liquids, a decrease of 3% from the 103,312 tank cars used in 2021. In 2016, only 8% of the fleet that carries crude oil, and other Class 3 flammable liquids, consisted of DOT-117s (new or retrofitted), compared to 59% in 2022. For crude oil alone, 93% of the tank car fleet in 2021 consisted of DOT-117s, up from 87% in 2020.
The annual BTS report is required under FAST Act, Section 7308. Additionally, Section 7308(c) requires BTS to estimate the anticipated number of DOT-117 tank cars for each year from 2018 through 2029 by collecting data from tank car shops that build or retrofit tank cars. It is expected that, by the end of 2029, all Class 3 flammable liquids will be carried in rail tank cars that meet or exceed DOT-117 specifications.