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Tim,


The statistical chance of a serious accident with a train load of rail cars full of oil is a magnitude higher than from a pipeline.

This depends heavily on the railroad and the attitude of its management. Some railroads maintain very high safety standards while others, tragically, do not. There are two "Class 1" railroads, the Norfolk Southern Railway (NYSE: NSC) and CSX (NYSE: CSX), in the eastern United States. Norfolk Southern has long maintained the platinum standard of safety in all aspects of its operation, from frequent inspection and rigorous maintenance of its rights of way, locomotives, and rolling stock to enforcement of its operating policies, whereas CSX taken the opposite tact of minimizing maintenance and shoddy operations. Most of the smaller carriers -- regionals, short lines, and public transportation authorities, and Amtrak -- are somewhere in between. For the past decade, one has been able to make good money simply by betting, even at 5:1 odds, that every rail mishap in the eastern United States that the news media reported without naming the railroad occurred on CSX. I know of one instance in which a regional railroad repaired shared tracks in a yard owned by CSX out of fear that CSX's delapitated track would give way under its trains, causing an accident. These statistics, unfortunately, tend to reflect negligence of a few railroads rather than responsible operation by the overwhelming majority.

Norm.
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