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Joint committee seeks answer to rail congestion

DFL leaders

Minnesota’s clogged railways are negatively impacting farmers, miners, heavy industry and more, a joint House and Senate hearing heard Tuesday.

Lawmakers and industry representatives lay the blame for the slowdown on a jump in the number of oil trains crisscrossing the state to and from North Dakota’s booming Bakken oil fields.

But railroad industry representatives told a joint hearing of the House Transportation Finance, Commerce and Consumer Protection committees, and Senate Transportation and Public Safety Division, and Commerce and Jobs, Agriculture and Rural Development committees that, even without the increase in oil train traffic, the state’s rail capacity has been stretched in recent years.

Legislators took no action.

"We have an unprecedented situation," said Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Mpls), chair of the House Transportation Finance Committee. Agriculture, mining and passenger rail are all being impacted by the slowdowns, he said. "We need to know why that's happening."

[LISTEN: Archived audio of the hearing]

(Read more)

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