Hoeven Kicks Off Rail Safety Training in Fargo

Senator Working to Improve Rail Safety, Finalize Railcar Standards

FARGO, N.D. – As part of the senator’s ongoing efforts to improve rail safety in the state and across the nation, Senator John Hoeven today kicked off a hands-on rail safety training session hosted by GATX Corporation, one of the nation’s largest railcar leasing companies, and BNSF Railway. Hoeven met with GATX officials earlier this year to bring the company’s training program to North Dakota.

Hoeven has been pushing to improve rail safety in North Dakota and across the nation since December 2012, when he pressed Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) head Cynthia Quarterman asking her to expedite rules governing construction of new, safer tanker cars. Hoeven continued to press the issue with U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx and Quarterman at meetings he arranged in both Washington and North Dakota immediately following the derailment of a train carrying crude oil outside Casselton, North Dakota.

“We’ve been working closely with the DOT, shippers, carriers, community leaders and colleagues in the Senate to improve rail safety for North Dakota and the whole nation,” Hoeven said. “That has spurred investments, both public and private, in infrastructure, training and services to prevent derailments and to minimize the impacts when a derailment occurs. This week’s training is a part of that effort. At the same time, we continue to push DOT to finalize effective and practical rules for tanker car construction so tank car owners like GATX have the certainty they need to upgrade their fleets, which is a vital part of the effort to make rail transport safer.”

Over the next few days, GATX, the largest railcar leasing company in the world, and BNSF will provide training to local emergency responders using GATX’s TankTrainerTM and Classroom Car. GATX’s TankTrainer is a 33,500-gallon tank car outfitted with a variety of fittings, coatings and configurations that allows trainees to access both the interior and exterior of a tank car for a hands-on experience. The Classroom Car is a climate-controlled training facility for instruction provided by experienced GATX personnel. Using these mobile facilities, GATX provides education and outreach to its customers, railroads, emergency responders and the communities in which it operates.

GATX is committed to safety and training, and the TankTrainer program is part of its ongoing efforts to educate industry professionals on the important features of tank cars. The TankTrainer has been in operation for more than 20 years, and GATX has hosted hundreds of training events for thousands of employees at railroads and shippers, as well as local and regional first responders.

Hoeven met with BNSF officials in January, shortly after a train carrying crude oil derailed outside of Casselton, and again in March, urging them to follow through on previous commitments to advance comprehensive rail safety reforms. During the second of those meetings, BNSF CEO Carl Ice announced a $5 billion investment in rail infrastructure, including $400 million in North Dakota this year to expand rail capacity, replace and maintain the network infrastructure and continue the implementation of Positive Train Control technology.

Additionally, the senator testified before the Senate Commerce Committee in March, where he pressed rail industry officials and regulators for a comprehensive and timely plan to enhance safety measures for transporting petroleum products by rail.

BNSF is co-hosting this training as part of its ongoing Hazmat training program for communities, which is designed to aid local emergency responders in how to prepare for and respond to possible hazardous materials transportation incidents through a combination of hands-on training and emergency planning. BNSF’s Hazmat professionals have trained over 1,600 North Dakota emergency services personnel since 2009 and held training sessions this year in Wahpeton, Dickinson, Mandan, New Rockford, Minot, Trenton, Fargo and Hillsboro.