Rail More Vital Than Ever in Washington Trade Efforts

Continued investments in infrastructure necessary to remain competitive

SEATTLE — Washington state’s freight rail network remains a vital part of our trade infrastructure network – but failures to invest in the system could jeopardize trade opportunities.

Rail and maritime experts told lunchtime listeners Tuesday that continued investments in our freight rail system are essential if Washington wants to remain a global trade leader. The comments came during a luncheon hosted by Keep Washington Competitive (KWC) and the Washington Council on International Trade (WCIT).

“Washington state’s rail system is one of the most robust systems in the country, but other states and our neighbors up in Vancouver are taking steps to bolster their trade infrastructure in order to compete with us,” said Courtney Wallace, regional director of public affairs for BNSF Railway. “This year, we will have invested more than $160 million here in Washington to ensure we continue to operate in a safe and reliable network. This includes things like adding positive train control, new freight cars and other key equipment to help ensure safe and efficient transport of all materials.

Wallace added, “We also appreciate the partnerships we have developed with other transportation sectors, like the maritime industry, which are a key connection in our state’s infrastructure network.”

Mike Moore, vice president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, said the maritime industry and the rail industry must continue to work together to enhance Washington’s trade-based economy.

“This is not an either-or scenario. This is about having both a robust rail network and a robust maritime industry. The two are complimentary in many ways,” said Moore. “As we look to the future, it becomes imperative that our policies support timely investments in our state’s infrastructure. I can tell you first-hand that other ports in other states are doing their best to take business away from us.”

Moore added, “We need to be investing in our ports, rail and other infrastructure. Otherwise, we won’t be able to compete in the global marketplace. And for Washington state, that’s a critical element of our trade-based economy.”