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The Forum: Franken adds to push for more rail inspectors

MOORHEAD – U.S. Sen. Al Franken spent part of Monday afternoon driving down Main Avenue alongside the railroad tracks in Moorhead, where five-plus trains haul millions of gallons of Bakken crude east through the city every day.

That traffic – which Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams said she expects to increase – plus the fiery derailment in Casselton, N.D., on Dec. 30 – make the trains that cross through town a major public safety issue.

“Imagine if that had happened in Moorhead,” the Minnesota Democrat said of the crash, in which a train carrying crude collided with a derailed grain train just a half-mile west of Casselton. “What happened in Casselton, we don’t want to happen again.”

Franken is one of more than a dozen senators who signed on to a letter urging a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to set up a fund to help train first responders, perform additional research and add railroad inspectors to understaffed federal agencies.

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