Stop Dangerous ‘Bomb Trains’ from Destroying Communities

Derailments and the tragedies they create are becoming all too common.

Target: Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx

Goal: Protect innocent citizens by regulating trains carrying flammable materials.

It is obvious that new safety standards applied to trains carrying crude oil are inadequate. There were four accidents in the first three months of 2015 alone that involved cars built under what supposedly were new and better standards. From their horrible safety record, these standards were obviously watered down, in the process, by industry lobbying. However, it should not mean we are stuck with cars, built to last five to eight years, that do not protect innocent lives because that’s unacceptable. Loaded with highly flammable cargo, these cars pass through residential communities where people can lose everything, including their lives, to exploding trains.

Current safety rules were drawn up to serve the interests of the oil industry. They fail to protect the lives and property of people living in the communities through which they pass. Fiery derailments have become more frequent, in recent years, throughout North America. Oil companies, criticized for leaking pipelines, ship more and more flammable compounds by rail, but they’re not doing it responsibly. Inadequate safety standards threaten people, infrastructure, wildlife and water bodies.

Trains, with inadequate safety standards carrying unstable compounds, can result in terrifying derailments. These tragedies earn the nickname ‘bomb trains’ by forcing the evacuation of entire communities. Safety experts term these catastrophes ‘wakeup’ calls, but no one seems to be listening. We need more resilient tank cars, slower speed limits and better braking systems for trains when they’re carrying very dangerous materials, including crude oil. Until we get these protections, we should stop transporting flammable materials by rail.


Dear Secretary Foxx,

Innocent people have had their property destroyed and, in some cases, lost their lives when a ‘bomb’ train exploded in their quiet suburban community. Instead of respecting such tragedies for the message they send about inadequate protections, we allow corporate interests to water down the rules in the name of protecting the movement of commerce. However, all regulation isn’t bad regulation. When regulation can save lives, it should not be measured in relationship to commerce.

It’s the government’s responsibility to represent the people’s interests and to protect innocent lives. As evidenced by the abundance of horrible accidents when moving flammable materials by rail, that responsibility has not been met. Cars are not being made strong enough and conductors are moving these trains at unsafe speeds with inadequate braking systems. The results are horrific.

For the sake of people and the environment, flammable materials should not be transported by rail until and unless real safety standards are implemented. As for commerce, it’s less expensive in every way when safety is respected initially, before things inevitably break down. Please declare a moratorium on bomb trains.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Lawrence Clift

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