Monday, March 30, 2015

BNSF to increase safety by reducing train speeds, but only in urban areas with 100,000 residents

BNSF Railway announced last week that it will reduce all oil train speeds to 35 mph through municipalities with 100,000 or more more residents until its customers phase out old, single-hulled DOT-111 tank cars, which is expected to start in May, April Baumgarten reports for The Dickinson Press in western North Dakota. In 2013, a BNSF train running from North Dakota to Maine derailed in Quebec, killing 47 people. During that same year, more oil was spilled in the U.S. from trains than in the previous 37 years.

North Dakota critics blasted the move, saying the only state city the rule affects is Fargo, Baumgarten writes. Rep. Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks) told Baumgarten, "That doesn’t do a whole lot to secure our other communities . . . I think many of our rural communities would also argue that their lives are no less at risk."

BNSF spokesman Mike Trevino countered that "slowing the trains down in all communities would reduce the amount of product BNSF could ship and would burn up time" and "it would also impact trains hauling other commodities, such as grain or anhydrous ammonia. He added the measures go beyond the federal standard." (Read more)

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