BNSF cuts speed of oil trains going through cities


BNSF trains carrying oil through the Twin Cities will be rolling through at a slower pace.

The rail company, which carries crude oil from North Dakota all around the northern Midwest, voluntarily scaled back its city speed limit to 35 mph, Bloomberg reports.

That affects all cities of 100,000 people or more BNSF trains travel through.

The company will also be ramping up the number of inspections, in hopes of finding faulty wheels before they cause a derailment, Bloomberg says.

The Star Tribune says currently, trains travel through Minneapolis and St. Paul at 40 mph, meaning it's about a 12.5 percent reduction in speed.

Fargo is the only other city to meet the 100,000-population threshold in the immediate region.

The move comes after four recent high-profile oil train incidents, including a BNSF derailment in Galena, Illinois, earlier this month that resulted in a large blaze that took days to put out.

"The recent incidents involving crude trains ... has led us to believe that we must take further action," BNSF spokesperson Michael Trevino The Associated Press reports.

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Crude oil in Minnesota

The possibility of an oil train derailment has been a frequent topic among lawmakers and officials in recent months.

In January, a state Department of Public Safety report found Minnesota first responders are not prepared to deal with an oil train disaster.

After a crude oil derailment in West Virginia just weeks later, one analysis predicted about 10 oil train derailments a year over the next two decades. If it happened in a populated area, the projected cost is $4 billion in damage and hundreds of deaths.

Earlier this month, a report from Minnesota's Environmental Quality Board looked at how crude oil moves through Minnesota. According to the numbers, it's about 3.3 million barrels every day, with about 600,000 of those coming via the railway.

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