In the absence of pipelines, US oil producers transport their wares on about 200 train lines that accommodate oil trains of up to 100 tank cars. Unfortunately, this mode of transportation can be dangerous, as is evidenced by the recent spike in rail accidents involving oil trains — since last March, there have been at least 10 large crude oil spills in the US and Canada due to rail accidents, according to The New York Times. Even more alarmingly, the total number of gallons of crude spilled in rail accidents in 2013 was much greater than the total amount from 1975 to 2012. Explaining the spate of incidents, the news outlet notes that producers, which require ways to get oil to market as quickly as possible, have taken shortcuts and have not necessarily determined how hazardous moving product by train can be. Indeed, approximately two-thirds of the oil produced in the Bakken shale in North Dakota is transported by train, and 10 percent of the nation's total oil production rides the rails. Officials urge new solutions There is an immense amount of pressure on the US railroad system in large part because the country's oil production has increased markedly with no pipeline infrastructure to support it. Instead, railroads, which many consider archaic, are being tasked with the transportation of extremely valuable cargo. Railroad executives, the transportation secretary and federal regulators are looking to change that. They recently met and vowed to look for ways to improve the safety of transporting oil by rail, perhaps by slowing down trains and directing them away from populated areas. A review of standards for the train cars that are used to transport oil is also planned, The New York Times notes.