CSX 'safety train' rolls into Cleveland

CLEVELAND -- One day after President Obama's administration called for tougher rules on how flammable crude oil is transported, the CSX "safety train" rolled into Cleveland.

The train is making stops in much of the company's crude oil service territory over the next several months.

Its enhanced training program offers firefighters, police, emergency medical technicians and other first responders hands-on exposure to rail cars.

"We have a variety of experts here on hand to talk about general freight operations, some of the products that we ship and talking about crude by rail," CSX Spokeswoman Carla Groleau said.

On Wednesday, the Obama administration proposed stricter guidelines that include phasing out tens of thousands of tank cars unless they are retrofitted to meet new safety standards.

The proposals also include changes in speed limits, better braking and testing of volatile liquids, including oil.

"We need a new, world order on how this stuff moves," Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, in announcing the rules. "More crude is being shipped by rail than ever before."

Cars carrying volatile crude oil have skyrocketed, increasing 4,000 percent in 5 years, creating more risk, spills, fires and explosions.

"This volume of crude oil being produced and transported by rail just didn't exist that long ago," Foxx said.

The proposal comes from painful lessons learned in the aftermath of tragedy.

Just two months ago, an oil-carrying freight train derailed in Lynchburg, Virginia, spilling 30,000 gallons of oil into the James River.

And last year, in Lac Megantic, Quebec, a runaway oil train exploded, killing 47 people.

The department's proposal will take months to finalize after a 60-day comment period.

As the wheels of progress move at a snail's pace in Washington, there is no waiting here in Cleveland.

Train traffic continues to move through and first responders know they must be ready for the call, whatever and whenever it may be.

"To actually be able to touch and look at the equipment involved, and the valves involved, and the different train cars involved, I think it's very helpful to cement that information in," said Darren Collins, a first responder from Lakewood.

Follow WKYC's AJ Ross on Twitter: @AJRoss_WKYC


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