Risk analysis of transporting crude oil by rail: Methodology and decision support system

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8 Scopus citations


In 2014, there were around 500,000 carloads of petroleum crude oil on the U.S. railroad network, an 80-fold increase since 2005. A spate of crude oil release incidents has attracted national attention to railroad transportation safety. A practical probabilistic risk analysis model to estimate the in-transit risk of transporting crude oil by rail in unit trains on main lines is described. The goal of the research for the model was to provide methods and tools for optimal safety risk management of rail transport of crude oil and other hazardous materials. The model accounts for track segment specific characteristics, including segment length, FRA track class, method of operation, and annual traffic density; train-specific characteristics such as train length, train speed, and tank car safety design; and population density along each segment. The risk model estimates segment-specific risk that is measured by the expected number of affected persons. Also, the model estimates the average interval between release incidents. The model is implemented into a decision support tool that automates risk calculation, interpretation, and visualization. The methodology and implementation tool developed can be adapted to specific train configurations on any given railroad network.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-65
Number of pages9
JournalTransportation Research Record
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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