Photo: Illustration only. Courtesy of Florida East Coast Railway

U.S. regulators issue rule for LNG transport by rail

The United States regulators have issued a final rule authorizing the bulk transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail.

U.S. regulators issue rule for LNG transport by rail
Illustration only. Courtesy of Florida East Coast Railway

The rule has been issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in consultation with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Specifically, the rule will permit the bulk transportation of LNG in specialized tank cars with enhanced outer tank requirements and additional operational controls.

“The department’s new rule carefully lays out key operational safeguards to provide for the safe transportation of LNG by rail to more parts of the country where this energy source is needed”, said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

With FRA approval, LNG has previously been authorized for transport by rail in a portable tank.

Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations have also authorized the transportation of other flammable cryogenic materials for many years in DOT-113 tank cars.

Importantly, this final rule also incorporates newly designated additional safety requirements, such as an enhanced thicker carbon steel outer tank, PHMSA statement reads.

The rule also requires remote monitoring of the pressure and location of LNG tank cars. In addition, to improve braking, the rule requires a two-way end of train or distributed power system when a train is transporting 20 or more tank cars loaded with LNG in a continuous block, or 35 or more such tank cars of LNG anywhere in the train consist.

Furthermore, the rule requires railroads to conduct route risk assessments to evaluate safety and security.

The rule recognized the growth of energy production in the U.S., coupled with an increased global demand for U.S. natural gas.