Keeping Crude-Carrying Railcars Safe and Effective

By OPW | Dec 03, 2019

The importance of the railroad industry to the historic growth of crude oil production in the United States is spelled out in these two stats: according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2010, just less than 24 million barrels of crude oil were shipped via rail in the U.S. At the end of 2014, that number had risen to more than 316 million barrels, an increase of 1,300% in just four years.

While annual crude-by-rail shipments have settled between 87 million and 142 million barrels annually since 2016, a noted decrease from the eye-popping high of 2014, there is still little doubt that rail transport maintains a leading role in the shipment of crude oil. Since crude oil is classified as a hazardous material, Midland Manufacturing, Inc., Skokie, IL, has dedicated itself to designing, manufacturing and distributing world-class equipment and solutions for the safe handling and transport of crude oil. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the population and environment are protected from crude oil leaks and spills, tank overfills and fugitive vapor emissions.

With that in mind, Midland offers a complete product portfolio of equipment and components that have been strictly designed for use on railcars dedicated to the shipping of crude oil. These product families include:

Pressure Relief Valves (PRV)

  • A-19075 Smart-Flow: The design of the A-19075 Smart-Flow PRV helps achieve the right balance between minimizing product loss and tank-car integrity in the event of a railcar accident. Tested against competitive PRVs, Smart-Flow has a 17% longer time-to-failure rating. This gives first responders more time to mitigate the accident. The Smart-Flow PRV is also designed to lower the risk of tank rupture, minimize product loss and minimize the amount of lading that remains in the tank car.
  • A-22075 and A-22076: These high-flow PRV models have been specifically designed for use on railcars that transport crude oil and ethanol. They have a start-to-discharge pressure setting of 75 psig and a certified capacity at that pressure of nearly 30,000 standard cubic feet per minute (scfm).

Bottom Outlet Plug Valves

  • A-549-CS, A-549-XS, A-549-SS and A-549-MO: All of these plug-style valves feature a spring-loaded plug that ensures the valve remains closed in the event of a railcar accident. The plug’s triple-seal design provides excellent redundant sealing for long service life, while the cavity-free interior prevents entrapment and isolation of media inside the valve’s body.

Bottom Outlet Ball Valves

  • A-522: The valve features live-loaded and adjustable packing through the stem, which results in a reduction in leak potential. A compact design and universal rigid mounting capabilities allow the valve to fit all current API adaptors and vapor fittings, which can result in extended valve life.

Magnetic Gauging Devices

  • B-612: Multiple specific-gravity gauge rods are available to accommodate changing commodities. The lightweight float and gauge rod, which are available in stainless steel for increased corrosion resistance, improve durability and performance with a wide range of commodities.

Vacuum Relief Valves (VRV)

  • A-210/A-212: These VRVs have been designed to allow atmospheric air to enter and protect the tank car from collapse where there is a vacuum, making them ideal for use on railcars tasked with transporting harsh commodities like crude oil. Their no-step design eliminates improper cycling of the valve, while a built-in debris screen keeps contaminants from entering the valve-seating area.

Because railcar fleets dedicated to hauling crude oil are not homogeneous, Midland works with each transporter individually to build the best crude-by-rail equipment package. The result is a solution that delivers the best in railcar uptime, bottom-line optimization, safety and peace of mind for the railroad operator, rail personnel, end user, the environment and the population in general.

For more information on Midland Manufacturing, Inc., and its complete portfolio of tank railcar products, please visit