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North Dakota state rail inspectors issued 49 violations last year

A portion of a long line of BNSF locomotives are lined up on a curved section of tracks Monday, May 9, 2016, north of the 12th Avenue North bridge over the tracks in Fargo. Dave Wallis / Forum News Service

BISMARCK—The North Dakota Public Service Commission's two rail safety inspectors issued 49 violations last year, the agency said Thursday, Feb. 8.

The program was approved by state lawmakers in 2015 after an oil train derailment near Casselton, N.D., sparked an explosion in late 2013. Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak said inspectors issued "multiple violations related to wheel defects, side bearing problems, and switch issues," which "have a direct relation to derailments."

The program's two inspectors focus on train tracks and mechanical systems. In 2017, they identified nearly 2,700 defects, which don't pose "imminent danger" but could develop into a more serious problem if not addressed.

Violations require "more immediate attention," a news release said. They can trigger fines, reduced speeds or equipment being taken out of service.

The state inspectors are trained and certified by the Federal Railroad Administration and work with federal inspectors, the PSC said. The program is funded by diesel fuel taxes paid by the railroads, and state lawmakers agreed to set aside $564,668 for it during this two-year budget cycle.

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