skip to main content

Department of Transportation Repeals Rule on Electronic Tanker Brakes

This month, the United States Department of Transportation voted to repeal a May 2015 proposed rule that would have required the installation of electronically controlled pneumatic (“ECP”) brakes on certain rail tank cars. The ECP rule rose out of a 2015 rulemaking by the Federal Railroad Administration requiring ECP brakes on certain trains hauling flammable substances like ethanol and crude oil in DOT-117 tank cars.

The repeal was made in response to a study by the National Academies of Sciences Transportation Research, which concluded that the rule was based on flawed assumptions and that the ECP brakes were not shown to be superior to alternative systems.

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, issued the following statement on the repeal:

“Repealing this rule puts sound science and careful study by the independent National Academies of Sciences and Government Accountability Office over flawed guesswork the [DOT] used in 2015. While new technologies offer potential improvement to railroad safety, regulators have a responsibility to fairly evaluate effectiveness and avoid arbitrarily mandating new requirements. I applaud the Department’s new leadership for reacting appropriately to the findings of independent experts and fixing a mistake.”

The repeal was also applauded by the Association of American Railroads, which had lobbied to repeal the rule and issued the following statement:

“Following a thorough, independent, evidence-based evaluation of ECP brake systems, there was only one possible conclusion: The ECP brake mandate was not justified and must be repealed. The Association of American Railroads is pleased with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s decision to rescind the rule in accordance with the FAST Act.”–53394