KWC Event Focuses on Importance of Washington’s Rail Network to Whatcom County’s Economy

Briefing touts rail as part of Washington’s trade – and Internet-based — economy

BELLINGHAM — Representatives of trade, agriculture, manufacturing and the business community gathered Tuesday to hear more about the continued importance of rail in Washington state.

Speaking to the lunchtime group of more than 40 people at the Oxford Suites, BNSF regional public affairs director Courtney Wallace highlighted the railroad’s continued investments in Washington, emphasizing the increasing need for efficient rail transportation.

”As the most trade-dependent state in the nation, Washington remains a major rail hub for a broad variety of commodities, whether it means moving aerospace parts or agricultural goods,” said Wallace.  “As we look at our ports and other major trade infrastructure, we have to be sure there is a strong rail connection to meet the growing demand for Washington products around the globe.”

The event, cosponsored by Keep Washington Competitive and the Whatcom Business Alliance, focused on the legacy of rail transportation in Whatcom County and the increasing demand for freight rail to move goods in the most efficient way possible.

One of BNSF’s double-stacked intermodal trains takes the equivalent of 280 trucks off the highway, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent, saving three  times the fuel and reducing emissions and highway traffic congestion.

“Rail helps reduce carbon emissions by reducing the number of trucks on the road,” added Wallace. “Today’s consumers directly benefit from rail every time they shop online – those products will likely first travel by rail. So investments in Washington’s rail lines ensure consumers will continue to get the products they use every day, in the most efficient way possible.”

In 2018, BNSF expects to invest approximately $160 million in its network in Washington, and approximately $3.3 billion in its capital across its system. Last year, BNSF invested approximately $175 million in Washington.

Attendees also heard more about the impact of the county’s continuing moratorium on new permits for shipping fossil fuels at Cherry Point. In March, the council voted 5-2 to extend the freeze for another six months.