Trains that collided were heading for Missouri & Oregon

What were the destinations of the trains carrying grain and crude oil that collided Monday just west of Casselton?

Amy McBeth, of Minneapolis, BNSF public relations director for this region, said the grain train was westbound from Nebraska to Oregon. She said the crude train was eastbound from North Dakota to Missouri.

The 112-car westbound grain train derailed about one mile west of Casselton about 2:10 p.m., impacting the 106-car eastbound crude train on an adjacent track causing it to derail, BNSF officials said. There were no injuries to either of the train crews involved.

The derailment resulted in a massive explosion and fire, and many residents of Casselton were evacuated.

The Associated Press reported that federal investigators said Wednesday they recovered a broken axle at the derailment scene but don’t know yet whether it caused the wreck. The investigators found nothing wrong with the railroad track or with signals along the tracks, according to the Associated Press. The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the accident investigation.

One main track opened Thursday at 3 a.m. and the second opened a few minutes later. BNSF officials said customers may experience delays of 24 to 36 hours on shipments moving through the corridor.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple met with Matt Rose, BNSF chairman and chief executive officer, on Friday to discuss the derailment and ways to enhance rail safety, particularly the shipment of North Dakota crude oil.

“We’re going to pursue this until we’re satisfied that the appropriate measures are in place for maximum public safety,” Dalrymple said in a news release. He said the railroad industry needs to review its emergency communication systems to safeguard against accidents similar to the one that happened near Casselton. He said state officials will continue working with the state’s congressional delegation, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and other federal agencies to enhance rail safety.

The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources has collected data on the physical properties of Bakken crude oil and will provide any needed assistance to PHMSA which is studying the relative volatility of oil produced in western North Dakota. That administration also is in process of developing new rules regarding rail car tanker standards, Dalrymple said in the news release.

Both Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., are planning to meet with Rose in Frisco, Texas, this weekend to discuss the accident near Casselton and what can be done to enhance rail safety. BNSF headquarters are in Fort Worth, Texas.