One-third of the crude oil hauled from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale region by railcars could be forced off the tracks and into expensive truck fleets in the next four years, according to a railcar-industry trade group.The Railway Supply Institute says there aren’t enough shops to retrofit cars carrying flammable liquids in time to meet proposed federal deadlines, and that tens of thousands of cars will be idled as a result. The U.S. Department of Transportation wants tank cars carrying crude oil to be retrofitted with more puncture-resistant features in two years, and those carrying ethanol to be upgraded in three years. Those carrying other flammable liquids, such as heating oil and chemicals, have five years to be upgraded.“They can’t all be modified by the deadline, and the only alternative would be to yank them out of service,” said Kevin Neels, a transportation consultant for the Brattle Group, which studied the impact of the proposed regulations for the railway institute, which represents railcar-leasing companies and car manufacturers. The DOT is expected to complete standards and compliance deadlines for tank cars by early next year.
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