More energy producers are seeking alternatives to pipelines as a means of transporting crude oil to U.S. refining markets and grabbing the highest price for their product. Railways have become especially viable as evidenced by recent deals and joint ventures. But while strategic buyers and private equity firms benefit from the resulting M&A, they may have to fend against intense scrutiny as well, following a string of explosive train accidents.

The volume of oil moving by rail rose 31 percent in 2013 while overall traffic rose 1.8 percent, according to the Association of American Railroads. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP (NYSE:KMP) is one of those companies moving away from pipelines. After the Houston-based company bought two marine transporters for $962 million in December, it teamed with Imperial Oil Ltd. (TSE: IMO) to build a rail-loading facility near Edmonton, Alberta.

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