Avoid Playing Politics with Rail Safety

Rail has always been an important part of Washington’s transportation network.  With the most trade-dependent economy in the nation we rely on rail to ship goods safely and reliably across the state and to ports overseas.

Like every mode of transportation in Washington, from ships to pipelines and trucks to barges, rail operators are always making investments to improve safety and reliability – and the state’s major rail lines are no different.

This latter point certainly deserves a robust discussion in the wake of the Oregon rail accident. But in doing so, KWC urges all political candidates to avoid politicizing the incident.

As a columnist for the Spokesman Review recently outlined, “Making policy decisions based on the latest headline-grabbing accident is like announcing you’re never going in the water again because you just saw ‘Jaws.’ Decisions about balancing risk have to be made on nonemotional grounds.” And the nonemotional fact of the matter is rail transportation will continue to be a major part of the state’s economy for generations to come.

Thousands of people throughout Washington rely on rail jobs to take care of their families. Rail is a good corporate citizen and makes vital investments in communities throughout the state. As an organization focused on highlighting policies that create economic opportunity for our state, KWC knows that rail is an essential component of most every discussion. As a state, Washington cannot compete with neighbors to the North and South without a robust and top-notch rail infrastructure.

The recent derailment in Oregon was disturbing , no doubt. What we need now are realistic solutions to creating jobs, promoting trade and boosting the economy outside of the Puget Sound region. Using the incident to score political points is not the way to keep or make Washington competitive.