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Iowa Legislature May Limit Train Length in Iowa

Three lawmakers have given the green light to a bill that would limit the length of trains passing through Iowa, but all three say it could get stopped in a House committee. The bill would make it illegal for trains to be more than 1.6 miles long. That would be up to 130 rail cars according to Chris Smith of Tama, a Union Pacific conductor and engineer. He’s a local leader in the SMART TD union that represents railroad workers.

Mike Triplett, a lobbyist for Union Pacific, says train traffic is regulated by the federal government because it’s interstate commerce, and the proposed 8,500 feet limit on trains running through Iowa is unconstitutional.

Brad Epperly, a lobbyist for BNSF Rail, says states can’t preempt federal law when it comes to regulating trains.

Representative Brent Siegrist of Council Bluffs has some concerns about the bill but voted in subcommittee to keep it alive for further debate.

Representative Tom Determann of Camanche says lawmakers need to gather more information before taking action on the bill. “We have some problem in eastern Iowa with the CP/KCS thing and especially, so I’m inclined to take it to committee for more discussion,” he said. The merger of Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern railroads is expected to increase train traffic between Sabula, Iowa and Kansas City according to the Iowa DOT.


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