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Reports: BNSF laying off railroad workers in Minnesota, North Dakota

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Dozens of employees of BNSF Railway are getting sidetracked by furloughs.

The company confirmed to the Grand Forks Herald that a decline in freight traffic has BNSF letting go of some of its workers.

Spokeswoman Amy McBeth did not say how many employees are affected or where, but the Herald reports the layoffs are at four yards: Dilworth, Minnesota and Grand Forks, Mandan, and Minot, North Dakota, and says the number of workers involved may be near 100.

KVRR also lists those four rail yards and reports the layoffs have occurred over the last two weeks.

McBeth tells the Herald BNSF expects to call the employees back when freight volumes recover.

The new reports are nearly identical to a BNSF announcement last May, when the company said a drop in freight volume had led to an unspecified number of furloughs.

As the Associated Press mentioned then, BNSF hauls most of the oil shipped from North Dakota, where drilling has been declining.

Shrinking freight traffic is not unique to BNSF, though. The Chicago Tribune reported this month that collectively the country's major railroads have seen carloads drop more than five percent since October.

The Tribune says besides reduced energy traffic, railroads are also being squeezed by the strong dollar limiting exports and by retailers moving toward leaner inventories.

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