In just a few years, crude oil transportation by rail has moved quickly from stopgap expedient, to booming growth industry, to beleaguered necessity. A few, high-profile accidents have cost both lives and credibility, but have also brought shippers and carriers together to establish best practices, and the first fruits of that has been new standards for tank cars. Those are being phased in over the coming years.
That is good because behind the lurid headlines, volumes of crude oil moved by rail have continued to grow.
Producers and refiners reiterate that it has become an essential part of the supply chain, while railroads and terminal operators continue to invest in infrastructure to handle higher volumes. Beyond the pure numbers, many operators are expanding into full intermodal services, linking road, rail, pipeline, and waterborne transportation.
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