Canada will take older tank cars out of crude-by-rail service much earlier than originally planned, its transport minister said on Monday, in the government’s latest move to toughen rail safety after a deadly 2013 crash.
The decision, which moves Canada’s retrofit schedule further ahead of the United States, was partly prompted by a sharp drop in oil prices since 2014 that has cut the volume of crude transported by rail.
“With fewer cars in use, the industry has more capacity to retrofit existing cars to the current standard,” said Delphine Denis, a spokeswoman for Transport Minister Marc Garneau.
Some older tankers, called DOT-111 cars, had been scheduled to go out of service on May 1, 2017. A version jacketed with an extra layer of metal to make it stronger was set to be phased out on March 1, 2018.
Both types of cars will now be taken out of service by Nov. 1, 2016, Garneau said.
Accident investigators have said the cars tend to puncture during derailments, sometimes causing fires. The train that exploded in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic and killed 47 people in 2013 was made up of DOT-111 tank cars.
Denis said there are about 28,000 affected cars in crude oil service in North America.
The change could reduce risks borne by railways, which typically cannot refuse to ship hazardous goods.
“CN has long advocated for more stringent standards for tank cars and continues to strongly support the aggressive phase out of older, legacy DOT-111 tank cars,” said Canadian National Railway Co spokesman Mark Hallman.
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Canada’s Transportation Safety Board also has raised concerns about the durability of tank cars that meet the newer CPC-1232 standard.