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Rail News: Safety

North Dakota PSC, FRA agree to implement new rail safety program


The North Dakota Public Service Commission (PSC) yesterday signed an agreement with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to launch a railroad safety program for the state, where rail traffic volume has skyrocketed over the past several years.

Approved earlier this year by the North Dakota Legislature and included in the PSC's budget, the program calls for the hiring of two inspectors who will focus on track and motive power/equipment. Those two areas were identified as top safety priorities because statistics showed they contributed to the largest number and most severe rail accidents in North Dakota, PSC officials said in a press release.

The safety program was proposed as rail traffic volume in North Dakota increased nearly 233 percent between 2000 and 2012. At the same time, materials transported via rail changed from primarily nonhazardous products such as coal and grain to large volumes of hazardous materials such as crude oil and ethanol, PSC officials said.

"The railroads are essential to our state’s two leading industries, agriculture and energy, and at the same time run through the heart of 175 North Dakota communities," said PSC Chairwoman Julie Fedorchak. "The safe and efficient operation of trains is vital to our citizens. Today’s action officially engages the state in helping advance rail safety in North Dakota."

The PSC will hire and oversee the new inspectors, who will be trained and certified by the FRA and work in partnership with local and regional federal inspectors. The inspectors will inspect according to federal safety standards and have the same enforcement authority as federal inspectors, officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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