Tank Car manufacturer and servicer Union Tank Car (UTLX), which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, has opened a remanufacturing facility in Marion, Ohio, to retrofit DOT-111 and CPC-1232 specification railroad tank cars.
Under the Enhanced Standards for New and Existing Tank Cars for use in an HHFT— existing tank cars must be retrofitted in accordance with the DOT-prescribed retrofit design or performance standard for use in an HHFT.
An HHFT is defined as a train carrying 20 or more tank carloads of flammable liquids (including crude oil and ethanol).
The need for replacement and retrofitted tank cars impacts shippers that ship by rail, including shippers of LPG, oil producers and refiners, and ethanol producers that own their own tank cars or lease them from leasing companies, and Berkshire’s BNSF Railway’s own fleet of tank cars, which includes a portion of the 25,000 tank cars it acquired in September 2015 from GE Railcar Services.
The retrofitting adds top fittings protection, thermal insulation, an 11-gauge steel jacket, full ½-inch thick head shields, and a bottom outlet valve handle that disengages from the valve when the car is in transit. In addition, DOT-117R cars also have their trucks and brakes reconditioned.
Retrofitting existing tank cars is an important bridge to safer shipping of flammable liquids, as the current backlog of new tank car orders sits at a record 52,000 units.
The new facility currently can retrofit two tank cars a day using a specially designed drum welder that fabricates the tank jackets, and the plant will rewrap 60 tank cars a week when it reaches full capacity.
The Ohio Tax Credit Authority granted a 55-percent, 5-year tax credit to UTLX for the creation of $8,272,000 in new annual payroll, provided that the company maintains operations at the facility for 11 years.
UTLX also received a $75,000 grant from the Ohio Rail Development Commission to cover the cost of on-site rail improvements.
Under the corporate umbrella of Berkshire’s Marmon Group, UTLX owns and manages a total of 120,000 railroad cars.
© 2016 David Mazor
Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.