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Minnesota Rail Safety

Meet Minnesota’s New State Rail Director

Governor Mark Dayton has welcomed a new State Rail Director to his administration. Tenzin Dolkar will lead efforts to enhance railway safety across the state. She will also explore infrastructure improvements, reinforce HSEM-led training and coordinate with communities and railroad companies to ensure the safety of all Minnesotans.
Dolkar replaces Alene Tchourumoff, who was appointed Chair of the Metropolitan Council in June 2017. Review Gov. Dayton’s news release.

Rail and Pipeline Funding 

HSEM is pleased to offer funding from the Railroad and Pipeline Safety Account to communities that are interested in emergency response and preparedness training opportunities. To apply, download and complete the application (along with any additional information or supporting documents) and submit for review of your request.

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 July 31, 2018: 6,334 first responders from 216 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.
    • 302 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.
    • 88 sessions have been conducted as of July 31, 2018.
    • 1,579 first responders from 67 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 Names Tenzin Dolkar as Minnesota's New State Rail Director
From Office of Governor Dayton
Governor Mark Dayton has named Tenzin Dolkar to serve as Minnesota’s new State Rail Director. Dolkar will replace Alene Tchourumoff in the role, after Tchourumoff was appointed Chair of the Metropolitan Council by Governor Dayton in June of this year. 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 freight rail transportation in Minnesota can be found here.