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Minnesota Rail Safety

Governor Dayton Appoints New Rail Director

With more than 4,400 miles of railways in Minnesota, Governor Dayton has appointed Alene Tchourumoff to serve as the state’s first rail director. Ms. Tchourumoff will lead efforts to enhance railway safety and pursue needed infrastructure improvements.

Many Bakken oil trains travel within a half-mile of Minnesota’s most populated areas on a daily basis. Governor Mark Dayton created the position to:

  • Pursue railroad infrastructure improvements.
  • Increase response in the event of a derailment or explosion.
  • Monitor rail traffic.
  • Work with communities and railroad companies to ensure safety.

Read more about the appointment here


Rail Safety Latest Developments

Investing in Railway Safety
Accidents in nearby states involving trains carrying crude oil have raised concerns over the safety of Minnesota’s railways and the people living near them.
Legislation signed in July 2014 by Governor Mark Dayton requires the Minnesota Department of Public Safety to provide oil transportation awareness trainings to local jurisdictions across the state.
  • As of February 1, 2017: 6,079 first responders from 204 departments and agencies have been trained to better understand the hazards posed by the transportation of oil and other hazardous substances and how to best protect the public’s safety.
    • 292 classroom sessions have been held.
    • Additional sessions are currently scheduled.
  • Three table top exercises related to oil transportation have been completed.
  • Participants are provided a map of their jurisdiction describing the important community assets within a half mile of the rail line.
  • All state Chemical Assessment and Emergency Response Teams have received advanced training in response to crude oil.
  • Five approved training providers are currently teaching the next level (operations) of training.
    • 61 sessions have been conducted as of February 1, 2017.
    • 1,267 first responders from 44 departments and agencies have completed this course.
  • The oil training advisory group was formed with state agency participation from: Department of Public Safety, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Board of Firefighter Training and Education.
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has completed its report outlining Minnesota’s response capabilities for an oil transportation incident. This report presents key findings on emergency preparedness, training of first responders and recommendations for implementing best practices.

Rail Safety Overview

Rail safety legislation was signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton in 2014 to help protect those who live and work near railways that carry crude oil and other hazardous materials. The new law includes:

  • Increased oversight of railroad companies,
  • Requires more railway inspections, and
  • Provides for better emergency response training and preparedness in communities across the state

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is involved in the following ways:

  • Working with railroad and pipeline companies in developing safety protocols and facilitating coordination between these companies and local public safety officials.
  • Assisting local governments as they include emergency response information into their emergency operations plans.
  • Collaborating with local emergency managers and responders to understand the dangers of oil and other hazardous substances traveling through Minnesota.
  • Partnering with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the railroads to carry out the rail safety legislation. 

Rail Safety Information and Resources

Rail Safety News Releases

Governor Dayton Appoints Alene Tchourumoff to Serve as Minnesota’s New State Rail Director
From Office of Governor Dayton
Governor Mark Dayton today announced that he has appointed Alene Tchourumoff to serve as Minnesota’s new State Rail Director. Read the full news release here.

Governor Dayton Applauds New Federal Actions to Improve Rail Safety
From Office of Governor Dayton
Governor Dayton applauded the U.S. Department of Transportation’s announcement of new measures to improve the safety of trains carrying highly-flammable Bakken crude oil by reducing the speed that they travel through Minnesota cities. Read the full news release here.

Governor Dayton to Local Leaders: How is Increased Railway Traffic Impacting Your Communities?
From Office of Governor Dayton
Governor Mark Dayton reached out to 300 communities located along railway routes in Minnesota, asking how increased rail traffic and the volatility of oil shipments are impacting local budgets and the quality of life enjoyed by area residents. Read the full news release here.

New state rail safety regulations now in effect
From Minnesota Department of Transportation
Laws improving the safety of Minnesotans who live and work near railways that carry crude oil and other hazardous materials went into effect on July 1. Details about the new regulations are available in the release.