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July 9, 2013

N.H. sees more trains hauling oil to Canada

Quebec disaster has local officials talking


“Because of the fact the Downeaster runs on that line, it is inspected with greater frequency,” he said. “That track is held to a much higher maintenance standard. That is one of the better tracks in the state. The quality of the track is second to none.”

Pan Am Railways, which operates the trains, has been running safely over that line for many years, he said.

Robinson couldn’t recall any major rail accidents in New Hampshire in his 13 years as inspector.

Kingston fire Chief Bill Seaman said area chiefs met last year for rail safety training.

There is a regional hazardous materials team that would be called on in the event of a serious rail accident and all departments would respond, he said.

“If something like this happened in any one of our towns, we’re all going to be there,” Seaman said.

The railroad also has workers trained in accident response, who also would be sent, he said.

Seaman said he intends to discuss the Quebec accident at his monthly department meeting, as he routinely does with major disasters.

Despite the increase, less fuel is being hauled by rail than what moves over the road, he said.

“We probably have a bigger threat on our highways,” he said.

The 2012 New Hampshire State Rail Plan said trains account for only about 7 percent of all freight moved in the state.

The Main Line-West also carries propane, minerals and lumber.

David Preece, Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission executive director, said a goal for the state, outlined in its master plan, is to boost rail freight shipments.

“That’s a very inexpensive way to move freight,” Preece said. “I think there’s been a lot of discussion about that. In the rail master plan the state of New Hampshire recently adopted, rail freight does play an important part for the state.”

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