BNSF rail safety initiatives, investments highlighted at Thursday event
PASCO — Pasco Kiwanians gathered at lunch Thursday to learn more about the safest mode of bulk commodity transport on land: rail.
The presentation, hosted by Keep Washington Competitive, focused on efforts by BNSF Railway to keep the state’s network of rail lines open to facilitate the safe transport of everything from manufacturing products to energy resources and agricultural commodities. As the most trade-dependent state in the nation, Washington state relies on its strong rail networks to transport a variety of commodities from all corners of the state to export globally.
Courtney Wallace, regional director for public affairs director for BNSF, served as the luncheon’s keynote speaker.
“Simply put, rail remains the safest mode of land transportation, and BNSF is committed to the safe and secure transport of all cargo on our rail lines, including hazardous materials,” said Wallace, who noted that 99.987% of all hazardous materials are moved by BNSF without incident. “Safety is at the heart of everything we do. It is the foundation of our company and nothing is more important that running our trains safely through the communities where we operate.”
During her presentation, Wallace provided an overview of various BNSF rail safety efforts that start with the company culture, putting safety at the forefront of everything they do. That includes personnel training, as well as rail monitoring, equipment inspections and the use of technology to identify potential hazards.
This year, the railroad launched $175 million worth of upgrades to its rail network around the state. All of BNSF’s major rail routes will receive tie and rail replacements, particularly in high-traffic corridors.
In the past four years, BNSF has made more than $650 million in track improvements in Washington, Wallace noted.
“BNSF understands the important role rail plays in this state, the most trade-dependent state in the nation. Forty percent of all jobs here are tied to trade and that means we need to continue to invest in our trade and export infrastructure and in our ports – like the Port of Pasco,” she said.
“Railroads are required by federal law to move all regulated products and the markets decide what we move — that could be anything from aerospace parts to fossil fuels and agricultural commodities,” Wallace said.
“As a common carrier, we understand that our job is to move all regulated cargo in the safest possible manner. We take that job very seriously, every day, and are proud to operate in communities like Pasco and the Tri-Cities.”
About Keep Washington Competitive
In 2014, AWB and representatives from labor, business, agriculture and other trade organizations formed Keep Washington Competitive, a coalition united to protect trade from overreaching regulations and to promote bi-lateral trade growth in Washington state through sound state policies and fostering a regulatory environment that encourages investment in our state trade industries. To learn more, visit http://keepwashingtoncompetitive.com/.