Will Oil Pipe lines hurt railroads?

MarkInLA Feb 25, 2014

  1. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Will this affect railroad revenue ? If they put in one, then there will be another and then another. And, if coal is phased out I'd think this would put the nail in the coffin ...No ?




     
  2. Gizmo2011

    Gizmo2011 TrainBoard Member

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    Oil pipelines do cut into the revenues of a railroad or at least take away the possibility of expanding their revenue base. With the constant demand for oil in the world there will always be a demand to move it from oil field to market. Pipeline and rail are really the only two viable options.

    I'm not sure the demand for coal is decreasing either. There have been improvements made to make coal a cleaner burning substance and I'm sure there will be additional efforts to make it cleaner.

    There are many other sources of revenue as well. Goods in containers, wheat, potash, and autos to mention a few.

    Maybe I am just an optimist but I sure hope rail will continue for many years to come. What would I do on weekends if there were no trains. :(
     
  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Considering the opposition, and the costs of everything from litigations too many, to the construction itself, new pipelines face so many hurdles and obstacles.... Shipping oil, (and other bulk commodities), by rail will be around for a while; with or without coal. Did you hear the news last week, about an order BNSF has placed for thousands of new tank cars?
     
  4. High Line

    High Line TrainBoard Member

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    When I read this topic, this was my first and exact thought. With BNSF placing an order for 5,000 new/safer tankers it would appear they are aware of how the pipeline will or won't affect them. Otherwise I'm not sure it would be wise to place an order for such a large number of brand new cars. Not just that but the same article mentions most of the leasing companies replacing their tanker fleets with newer and safer cars as well. Seems to me like that would maybe not be their first choice of investments if they were expecting fincancial woes...but I may be totally wrong.

    -HL
     
  5. Gizmo2011

    Gizmo2011 TrainBoard Member

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    I did read that BNSF have plans to purchase 5000 of tank cars designed to move crude oil. I understand these new tank cars have several safety features that make the transport of oil safer. This could add to the opposition to pipelines if the new features can be proven to reduce the risk. There have been couple of rail incidents lately both in Canada and the US that make oil by rail a harder sell. I think the bottom line is the oil is going to have to be moved one way or another.
    If pipelines are not developed, rail will step into the void to deliver bitumen to the West Coast.

    Rob
     
  6. retsignalmtr

    retsignalmtr TrainBoard Member

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    More than 40 people killed in a tank train derailment in Canada. Thousands of Americans evacuated every time there is a tank train derailment here (oil or chemical). What could hurt railroads more? Mississippi river closed due to an oil spill (non RR related). Hazardous materials need a safer transport method. Railroads are not the answer. Puncture proof tank cars are needed now. Lower tank train speeds and maybe daylight only movements. Political pressure also does not help. Higher prices and less availability are politically desired outcomes to control the people, their money and America's standing in the world.
     
  7. jimil

    jimil TrainBoard Member

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    I just read an article the other day on some random site while I was looking for other info that said there's a huge backlog of tank car orders, in part driven by need to ship crude. The other commodity I see an awful lot of on the rails these days is ethanol.
     
  8. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    At least part of that was due to secondary problems, as it happened near a site with additional hazmat. Something which could never have been predicted.

    Trucks or rail. Even if petroleum is eliminated, there is still no alternative to movement of chemicals.

    As long as we have a need to move oil and byproducts, the only alternative is pipelines.

    They are being built and put into service. This somehow is not getting any coverage from media.

    Probably a good idea. Hopefully it would not, but likely it would drive up end user costs, yet again.

    All true.
     
  9. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    Retsignalmtr,
    I'm doing a research paper on just that topic. Did you read my mind?
    :teeth:
    The NTSB accident investigations certainly throw inferior tank car design under the bus so to speak, as the cause of the HAZMAT disasters that follow HAZMAT train derailments. Puncture-proof cars are in development, but are not yet available. The US Dept of Energy has designed crash-proof casks to ship nuclear waste, but they are prohibitively expensive and heavy. Crashproof is not likely to be fielded. Increased crashworthiness is achiveable, unfortunately, it takes time and are not yet available in the numbers needed to replace inferior designs currently in use.

    You suggested slowing down HAZMAT trains. I concur; while it will anger the railroads and cripple productivity at the oil wells, the tradeoff in public safety is worth it. Current tank cars are tested to only about 25 MPH or less, with less than spectacular puncture resistance. Why then, are railroads allowed to operate these same cars at double that speed? All of the accidents I have studied so far placed train speed at the time of the wreck at under the federal limit. Minot 2002 was 41 MPH, Casselton 2013 was 42 MPH, Cherry Valley 2009 was 36 MPH, Shepherdsville 2007 was 47 MPH, New Brighton 2006 was 37 MPH and Graniteville 2005 was 47 MPH, all under federally-mandated 50 MPH (Code of Federal Regs) max speeds. Even though the current fleet is demonstrated to puncture at only 25 MPH, at least restricting HAZMAT movements (crude oil, toxic or poisonous inhalation hazards or otherwise) to 30 MPH should decrease risk acceptably. Another stopgap measure is to retrofit current cars with head shields or apply sandwiched metal structures to the car shells to increase puncture protection.

    Just rambling based on the research I have done. *squirrel!* :cool:
     
  10. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    Do you have some examples of any news releases or othe rinfo I could use in my paper? I have found lots of material about the cars being developed, but even improved designs (such as the DOT 111, 105/112 cars) have demonstrated less than satisfactory puncture resistance in FRA tests.
     
  11. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    devils advocate...hauling pipe for an oil pipeline kept the Rio Grande narrow gauge running longer than it would have....
     
  12. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

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    Return of the 'beer can tank car'? No? sigh. I'd love new fleets of high detailed shorties.
     
  13. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    BNSF not only announced, but is reported to have requested bids. This should mean they have something quite specific in mind: A design. You cannot ask someone to give an end price for that amount of items, based on 'what if'. As an industry employee back when the PD craze began, I can remember how competitive it was and that is why many US builders bowed out. If others follow BNSF, this will likely be just as competitive.

    Tank cars being built right now are all supposed to have improved abilities to withstand impacts and punctures. Keep in mind there is likely nothing which can be built, which might not somehow fail a test set up to the most extreme imagined circumstances, or unpredictable real incident. Those tests you mention are specifically intended to cause failure. In reality, not to prove how safe.

    A while back, there was an excellent picture of one right here on TrainBoard, which showed post accident damage, and how the inner container was not compromised. I believe it was an enthanol tanker?
     
  14. jimil

    jimil TrainBoard Member

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    BNSF isn't the only anticipating an uptick in liquid freight.
    http://www.chicagobusiness.com/arti...-is-creating-years-long-backlog-for-tank-cars

    Also consider that pipelines present a great target for the kind of whacko that goes after high tension lines with a backhoe. Further, you have things like brush fires to worry about in certain areas.
    Pipelines may also be safer for now because they'd be new. Real estate development has this annoying tendency to crowd rail lines, pipelines won't be immune. Relocate the mains where you;'d run the pipeline and a whole lot of safety issues just got taken care of right up until real estate again crowds it.

    Both will continue to coexist just because rail is more flexible in terms of destination at this point.
     
  15. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA Permanently dispatched

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    Tanks a lot for the replies. Yes, I too heard a report on the coming of new tank cars. It was on public radio about a week ago. True, I had not thought of the other natural resources which can only be carried in a rolling vehicle, not a pipe line. And, true , BNSF(Buffet's 1:1 scale MRR ) ordering some 5,000 tanks does show strong optimism for the future of liquid transport .
    Finally, if coal can be burnt clean and with the availability of it, I'd think/hope a state of the art steam engine could come back. What happened to the (wasn't it ?) ACE 2000 ?
     
  16. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    This would have been the ACE 3000 proposal made by Ross Rowland. That was about thirty years ago now.
     

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