Rail Leaders, Spokane Sheriff Underscore Rail Benefits

Event to focus on rail safety & the economic importance of rail to Washington

SPOKANE — Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, along with executives from the state’s largest rail carriers, BNSF and Union Pacific, met with Spokane business and community leaders this morning to discuss ongoing infrastructure improvements and rail safety initiatives. The private event was hosted by Keep Washington Competitive, a coalition of business, agriculture and trade organizations focused on regulatory and trade issues.

“The railroads are an important economic partner for the City of Spokane. They are a vital link in our trade-based economy. Without them and without their help in facilitating trade through Spokane, we would be jeopardizing billions of dollars of tax revenue, money we need to fully operate our city,” said Sheriff Knezovich.

“There are some in the community who believe railroads are a detriment. I am not one of them. I feel very confident that my staff, as well as other area law enforcement and first responders benefit from the safety training that carriers like UP and BNSF provide to help us prepare for any kind of rail incident,” he added.

“I believe rail is the safest way to move commodities. Their safety records and first responder training programs are a reflection of their commitment to safety.”

“When it comes to moving the goods that we all use every day, railroads remain Washington state’s safest, most reliable form of transportation,” said Courtney Wallace, regional director of public affairs for BNSF Railway. “More than 3,600 BNSF employees call Washington home, and for all of us, nothing is more important than operating safely through the communities we serve.”

BNSF and Union Pacific are the two largest rail carriers in Washington, transporting everything from agricultural and farm products to aerospace parts and energy resources.

Aaron Hunt, director of public affairs for Union Pacific, also underscored the company’s commitment to the safe transport of all goods, including energy commodities.

“Union Pacific’s primary focus is the safe transport of all products,” said Hunt. “Our investments in Washington’s rail lines are designed to benefit our communities, our employees and customers.”