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Train, CNG Truck Collision Results in Explosion, Fire

Natural gas vehicle (NGV) fueling system designers, manufacturers and suppliers are keeping a close eye on the investigation of a fiery collision Tuesday in which a CSX freight train rammed into a compressed natural gas (CNG)-fueled tractor-trailer truck in Buffalo, NY.

An explosion and fire erupted when some of the truck's CNG fueling tanks were reportedly punctured, resulting in burns to both the truck driver and train conductor. Both were hospitalized and listed in stable condition.

A spokesperson for CSX told NGI that a one-locomotive, three-car train operating on an industrial track backed into a tractor-trailer truck that had pulled into its path and stopped. The Buffalo Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire. One of the train cars carried a load of grain and the other two were empty, the spokesperson said.

On Thursday, Fleets & Fuels quoted an unnamed industry source as saying that the train "impaled the CNG tank" on the truck's passenger side, releasing gas that ignited and caused the explosion.

Another source told the alternative fuel vehicle newsletter that the truck had two rail-mounted CNG cylinders made by Quantum and three back-of-cab cylinders by Hexagon, all of which were Type IV all-composite CNG cylinders.

The truck was from North Carolina-based Innovative Transportation Services' Sonwil Distribution Center in Buffalo, which in early 2014 announced it was operating four Kenworth T660 CNG trucks featuring GCW 107,000-pound hauling capacity, Cummins ISX 12-liter G 2013, 400 hp engines, and a fuel tank system from Agility Fuel Systems, each cylinder with 155 diesel gallon equivalent capacity.

Separately, the Las Vegas, NV-based NGV Institute (NGVi) announced its summer course offerings, focusing on the heavy-duty truck sector. It includes heavy-duty NGV maintenance and diagnostic training in Downey, CA, Aug. 11-13, and Clearwater, FL, Sept. 1-3.

NGVi touted its courses as instructing technicians on the entire fuel system -- "not just the engine -- from the fuel receptacles all the way through the emissions system."

Registration closes this week for NGVi's NGV technician safety training course, which is offered in Martinez, CA, and Chicago July 7-9.

Elsewhere, the NGV industry saw increased competition in the medium-duty pickup truck sector now that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to certify liquid injection equipment for propane autogas-gasoline bi-fuel Ford F-150 pickups. It would have a gaseous-prep 5.0-liter V-8 engine. Icom North America is offering the liquid injection equipment.

Icom also reportedly has completed testing for bi-fuel in Ford Explorer, Taurus, and Lincoln MKT 3.7-liter vehicles, for which the company's officials said they expect EPA certification soon.

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