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BNSF delays plan to increase train speeds in North Dakota city, Sen. Hoeven says


BNSF Railway Co. has agreed to postpone a plan to increase speed limits for trains traveling through Devils Lake, N.D., U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) announced on Wednesday.

Hoeven expressed the community’s safety concerns about the plan to BNSF Executive Chairman Matt Rose and requested that the railroad work with the Devils Lake mayor and city leaders to resolve issues. Rose agreed to delay the planned speed increases through the community, review the railroad’s plan and conduct further discussions with city leaders before proceeding, Hoeven said in a press release.

The Class I had planned to increase the current maximum speed from 30 mph hour to 60 mph beginning Aug. 1. BNSF noted frequent track inspections and the classification of the track, which can accommodate train speeds up to 60 mph.

However, residents are concerned the track’s path through residential and commercial areas, and its proximity to a daycare center, parks, schools and other sensitive locations, could jeopardize safety if train speeds are increased, said Hoeven.

Meanwhile, BNSF is training local emergency responders from 12 states on techniques to manage crude-by-rail incidents at a three-day course now being held at the Transportation Technology Center Inc. in Pueblo, Colo.

BNSF is underwriting travel and training expenses for more than 700 first responders as part of the 2014 training season, which began in July and will continue through December. The course includes hands-on field training and an emergency exercise tailored for crude by rail.

Since 1996, BNSF haz-mat professionals have trained more than 65,000 local first responders in communities along the railroad’s 32,500-mile, 28-state network.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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