Safety setback: DOT repeals ECP brake rule

Published: December 5, 2017

In a blow to safety, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) repealed a 2015 Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) rule that required railroads to implement electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) braking technology on trains hauling hazardous flammable contents.

“Clearly the railroad industry’s overwhelming influence over the Trump administration is paying off in repealing the ECP brake rule,” said SMART TD National Legislative Director John Risch. “ECP brakes are the safest, most advanced braking systems in the world and without some government requirement we will continue to use our current, outdated 150-year-old braking technology for the foreseeable future.”

The ECP brakes mandate was part of the 2015 rulemaking on DOT-117 tank cars. The rule stated that trains meeting the definition of a high-hazard flammable unit train (HHFUT) with at least one tank care with Packing Group I materials must be operated with ECP brakes by Jan. 1, 2021, or face reduced maximum speeds. All other HHFUT’s were required to have the system installed after 2023. DOT defines HHFUT as a single train with 70 or more tank cars loaded with Class 3 flammable liquids.

The Association of American Railroads has been lobbying for repeal of the rulemaking since its 2015 inception.

In Nov. 2017, Risch made comments to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in support of ECP braking technology. Click here to read those comments.