Old 05-30-2007, 04:10 AM   #1
BobWeaver
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Default Boxcar on unit tanker trains

Hi all -

I've noticed a trend among unit tanker trains, be it ethanol, propane, whatever, and that is a different car directly behind the lead locomotives. Many times it is a box car, as in this picture:

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=188788

Anybody know the reasoning, or is it just coincidence?
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Old 05-30-2007, 04:27 AM   #2
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I'm sure it's some kind of safety deal, but not sure of the specifics...
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Old 05-30-2007, 04:29 AM   #3
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There is suppose to be a buffer between the crew and anything dangerous like a unit ethanol or propane train. If it were to blow up, then there is a higher chance that the crew won't be injured or killed since they're an extra 60' away. Its a min of 3 cars (2 locos, 1 car; 1 loco, 2 cars). I'm not sure how long the train must be to require this buffer car.
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Old 05-30-2007, 02:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SD70MACMAN
There is suppose to be a buffer between the crew and anything dangerous like a unit ethanol or propane train. If it were to blow up, then there is a higher chance that the crew won't be injured or killed since they're an extra 60' away. Its a min of 3 cars (2 locos, 1 car; 1 loco, 2 cars).
Interesting, never knew it worked like that, and come to think of it I have seen photos of trains with more than one buffer car.
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I'm not sure how long the train must be to require this buffer car.
I don't think there is a certain length but what they are carrying.

There is usually one at the end of unit tanker trains also for the same reason, in case a train rearends the other.
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Old 05-30-2007, 02:43 PM   #5
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Railroad rules include a number of requirements for blocking certain commodities including keeping some tank cars away from open cars with shiftable loads (e.g., load of steel on a flat car).

A general rule is to keep haz mat shipments at least 5 cars away from a locomotive or occupied caboose. If the number of cars in the train does not permit this then at least one buffer car is required.
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Old 05-30-2007, 06:56 PM   #6
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Andrew,

Your buffer on the rear is for in the event of a set of helpers being added mid-route. The buffer is already there and all the have to do is couple on and go.
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Old 05-30-2007, 08:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Blaszczyk (2)
I don't think there is a certain length but what they are carrying.
I only say length may be a factor is because a local tank train that carries diesel or unleaded gasoline from a refinery in Anacortes to Seattle (about 60 miles) and it usually conists of 6 to 10 tank cars and 2 GP38's, no buffer cars.
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Old 05-30-2007, 10:47 PM   #8
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Thanks for your replies. I guess that would in fact make sense to provide a "comfort zone" if you will around hazardous cargo
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Old 05-31-2007, 12:28 AM   #9
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Would it be safe to assume that this is not a dangerous chemical being transported, then?

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