Created: 03/06/2014 8:28 AM 

By: Jennie Olson

A Senate committee on Thursday will brainstorm ways to improve rail safety to prevent major accidents.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will hold a hearing that focuses on the challenges for freight and passenger rail. It comes after U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar called for a comprehensive oversight hearing on the issue earlier this year.

In December 2013, an oil train derailed and exploded near Casselton, N.D., creating intense fires. The accident occurred about a mile outside the town, and no one was hurt. Rail lines run through and alongside the town.

Also, in July a runaway oil train derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, near the U.S. border. Forty-seven people were killed and 30 buildings were destroyed.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board noted that crude oil shipments by rail have increased by more than 400 percent since 2005, and some oil trains are more than 100 cars long.