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To: BNSF Construction and Building Products Customers

REMINDER: Proper Securement of Equipment In Open-Top Cars

BNSF has seen a recent increase in the amount of incidences involving tie down components becoming loose during transit in open-top rail equipment, resulting in train delays.

Loose or dragging components include:
Cables (from centerbeam flatcars)
Chains (from chain-equipped flatcars)
Web straps (from Flexibeam and pipe flatcars)
Hopper doors

When this occurs, unsecured tarps can tear or flap in the wind and loose web straps may drag and wrap around car axles – all of which create serious safety hazards. AAR regulations stipulate that shippers and receivers are responsible for making certain these items are secured prior to movement of both loaded and empty railcars.

As a reminder, please review the below securement requirements for open-top cars:

Please ensure that you and your customers adequately secure tarps, especially at the corners, which are most apt to catch wind. The Association of American Railroads Open Top Loading Rules, General Rules 1.2.26 through 1.2.28 specify the requirements for the use of tarpaulins in loading.

The rules require that the means of securement should be designed to work in conjunction with the type of load and that the tarps should be of adequate construction to resist tearing or other forms of degradation. Of particular importance is Rule 1.2.28, quoted below, dealing with safety appliances:

    Tarpaulins or other covering must not be secured to or otherwise obstruct ladders, handholds, grab irons, hand brakes, safety walkways, railing or other safety appliances.
Below are illustrations of the consequences of a properly secured and an improperly secured tarp:

Shot 1.JPG

Straps, Cables and Chains
It is also important to make sure devices that secure loads, such as web straps, cable tie downs and chain tie downs, are properly attached on both loaded and empty equipment. Each car is stenciled with this requirement. The Open Top Loading Rules, Rule 27 of the National Railroad Freight Committee's Uniform Freight Classification 6000-K, Section 5 states:
    Consignee is required to return and secure to same car all railroad-owned securement devices removed to complete unloading, store chains, ratchets, tension devices and other appurtenances in appropriate facility and close all bottom outlets.

Detailed instructions for re-securing straps can be found here on the BNSF website by choosing “Flexibeam Flatcar” from the dropdown. In addition, below are illustrations of acceptable and unacceptable cable/chain tie down practices.

Shot 2.JPG Shot 3.JPG

Lastly, please ensure that when cars are unloaded, all non-permanent dunnage is removed from the cars and attached dunnage is secured prior to releasing the empty car for movement.

Questions regarding these items can be addressed to

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