U.S. railway Genesee & Wyoming Inc has cut speeds of trains moving crude oil and increased inspections in the aftermath of a fiery derailment involving one of its trains in rural Alabama last year, Chief Operating Officer David Brown told analysts on Tuesday.
Twenty-five railcars carrying crude that were part of a 90-car train derailed in early November near Aliceville, Alabama, causing an explosion and an oil spill into a wetland area.
Genesee said at the time that data recorders showed the train was going slower than the 40-miles-per-hour (65 kph) speed limit. Brown told analysts during a quarterly earnings call on Tuesday that the company has cut speeds to 25 mph and increased track inspections.
“We have implemented some additional operating precautions which are just preventative in nature,” he said.
The Alabama derailment and fire is among several accidents in recent months involving crude trains that have increased regulatory scrutiny and focused attention on safety issues.
No one was hurt in the Alabama incident, but the worst by far was the crash of a runaway train in a small Quebec town last July, igniting explosions and fires that killed 47 people.
Brown said Genesee has increased inspections of crude train transfers from other railroads to its own, and now examine tracks that carry crude trains twice weekly rather than once per week. The company also increased annual rail testing to take place each quarter.
Executives also told analysts that product volumes shipped in the fourth quarter last year rose 16 percent largely because of crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas shipments.