Hoeven, Heitkamp: BNSF to Accelerate Steps to Improve Safety on Casselton Stretch of Rail

CASSELTON – Senators John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp today announced that BNSF Railway will accelerate steps to enhance rail safety in a stretch of track through Casselton, N.D. that has been the site of two derailments within the last year. The delegation, which has been pressing BNSF officials to take timely and substantive measures to mitigate the likelihood of accidents in the region, welcomed the railroad’s actions.

“We have been in regular contact with BNSF Executive Chairman Matt Rose, as well as other railroad officials to press them to promptly and effectively improve safety not only on this section of track, but on all track in the state,” Hoeven and Heitkamp said. “The company’s specific steps announced to reduce the risk of accidents in the future is welcome news.”

BNSF has committed to:

  • Accelerate Capital Maintenance Investments. BNSF will replace rail relay and ties within a seven-mile-range of Casselton in 2015. The action will harden rail infrastructure.
  • Increase Rail Detection Testing Frequency. BNSF will more than double the frequency of testing rail for defects to 12 per year. The railroad currently tests five times per year. Existing frequency on crude routes under the industry crude by rail safety initiative is three per year, one more than required by the Federal Railroad Administration. BNSF will also increase testing frequency with the high-tech Track-Geometry Testing vehicle from three to four inspections per year.
  • Increase the Number of Equipment Detectors. These detectors flag equipment problems as the train passes them. Early detection gives the railroad the ability to fix the problem before an accident occurs.
  • Intensify Day-to-Day Track Maintenance Focus. BNSF will provide additional supervision and oversight of track quality by assigning maintenance engineers to focus on the Casselton segment of the railroad. It will also add additional staff to winter maintenance.