This state’s reliance on trade depends on its ability to ship its products. While we rely on our state for highways, our rail systems are privately owned.
It was rails, of course, that opened our region to trade, made our fruit and our wheat available to markets far away.
A study by the Washington Research Council notes that there are 23 freight railroads operating in this state. The majors, however, are BNSF and Union Pacific.
Rails are growing in importance, with the growth of multi-modal operations, the problems of hiring long-haul truck drivers, and the increasing costs of fuel.
BNSF’s Everett to Spokane rail system through Wenatchee averaged 18 trains a day in 2011, and forecasts of moderate growth show 26 per day by 2030. We note that the rails have captured some barge traffic on the Snake River, evidence of the rails push for efficiency.
We see that most of our BNSF trains through here are full of containers, those big boxes that have transformed our world-wide transportation scene.
The question of coal trains is still being debated. We would see only empties through here, it appears.