Senator Kupec Champions Rail Safety Legislation in Senate Transportation Committee Wednesday

Three bills would reduce likelihood of derailments and protect Minnesotans

[SAINT PAUL, MN] — Senator Rob Kupec (DFL-Moorhead) presented three bills in the Senate Transportation Committee Wednesday to help address growing concerns around rail safety in Minnesota. 

“Hundreds of trains travel across Minnesota every day, many carrying cargo that could be hazardous if an accident occurred. That’s why it’s important we take steps today to help prevent any accident from occurring,” said Senator Kupec. “Safety of the residents and communities that would be at risk is our top priority, and these proposals will make a difference in responding to any accidents as well as preventing them in the first place.”

Senator Kupec presented four bills in Wednesday’s hearing:

  • SF 4161: establishes maximum lengths for trains in Minnesota, to help reduce railroad crossing wait times that may delay motorists and emergency vehicles, as well as reduce wear and tear on Minnesota’s rail infrastructure.
  • SF 3943: requires automatic detector systems along railroads which will help prevent derailments by providing train crews with more frequent measurements of the conditions of their trains bearings, axles, brakes and other machinery.
  • SF 3639: updates state law requiring that fire departments, not just fire chiefs, are contacted following a rail incident or derailment that includes a release of oil or other hazardous materials. 

Senator Kupec’s legislation builds on legislation that was included in last year’s Transportation Omnibus Bill. That legislation increased railroad emergency response training and planning and established minimum crew size requirements.

Following the hearing, SF 4161 advanced to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and SF 3639 and 3943 were laid over for possible inclusion in a future transportation omnibus bill.

Senator Rob Kupec represents Senate District 4, which includes Becker and Clay County. He is vice chair of the Agriculture, Broadband, and Rural Development Committee, and serves on the Health and Human Services Committee, Higher Education Committee, and Labor Committee.
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