Analysis of railroad tank car releases using a generalized binomial model

Xiang Liu, Yili Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

The United States is experiencing an unprecedented boom in shale oil production, leading to a dramatic growth in petroleum crude oil traffic by rail. In 2014, U.S. railroads carried over 500,000 tank carloads of petroleum crude oil, up from 9500 in 2008 (a 5300% increase). In light of continual growth in crude oil by rail, there is an urgent national need to manage this emerging risk. This need has been underscored in the wake of several recent crude oil release incidents. In contrast to highway transport, which usually involves a tank trailer, a crude oil train can carry a large number of tank cars, having the potential for a large, multiple-tank-car release incident. Previous studies exclusively assumed that railroad tank car releases in the same train accident are mutually independent, thereby estimating the number of tank cars releasing given the total number of tank cars derailed based on a binomial model. This paper specifically accounts for dependent tank car releases within a train accident. We estimate the number of tank cars releasing given the number of tank cars derailed based on a generalized binomial model. The generalized binomial model provides a significantly better description for the empirical tank car accident data through our numerical case study. This research aims to provide a new methodology and new insights regarding the further development of risk management strategies for improving railroad crude oil transportation safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20-26
Number of pages7
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Volume84
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 24 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Keywords

  • Generalized binomial model
  • Petroleum crude oil
  • Probability
  • Tank car release
  • Train accident

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