Slowing freight demand has prompted BNSF Railway to lay off several dozen employees in North Dakota and western Minnesota.

The layoffs, which some reports indicate may be nearing 100, generally have been spread between four yards: Grand Forks, Mandan and Minot in North Dakota, and Dilworth.

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“Our workforce needs are driven by our customers’ freight transportation needs,” BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said.

“Customers’ volumes in the near term have come down somewhat from their prior estimates. As a result, we are having to adjust our workforce demand numbers down to match volume and the work required to move that volume. As part of that, unfortunately, we are having to temporarily furlough some of our employees at different locations across our network.”

McBeth said she did not have specific numbers of furloughs in the region or at any particular site.

“It isn’t concentrated in any one geography,” she said. “We fully expect to call the furloughed employees back as soon as business needs require.”

BNSF has been involved in a $1 billion rail capacity improvement project in North Dakota since 2013, building nearly 100 miles of new double-track rails in the region in the past two years, including another 36 miles this fall between Minot and Williston.

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