Letter to the editor: BNSF Railway disappointed with factual errors found in 'Taking a Stance on Coal'
We read the Sept. 26 piece, “Taking a stance on coal,” and are disappointed that the reporter did not contact BNSF to fact check some details.
I want to point out a few items that we believe are important for your readers to know.
The reporter stated at the end of his story that taxpayers are responsible for railroad maintenance and upgrades. This is factually incorrect. Railroads are privately funded and pay for their own maintenance and expansion.
Since 2000, BNSF has invested more than $36.5 billion to strengthen and maintain its infrastructure. This year alone, BNSF is investing a record $3.9 billion. Since 1996, we have added more than 1,000 miles of 2nd, 3rd and 4th main track (not including sidings) to our system to accommodate growing freight volumes on our network. All of those dollars came from BNSF, not taxpayers.
BNSF regularly invests more than $100 million to preserve, maintain and grow freight rail capacity in Washington state alone. This year, that number is $106 million.
In regard to train traffic, as many as 70 trains a day pass through the heart of Seattle today. Some of these are coal trains that have been moving through the Seattle area for decades on the way to Canada. Until the recent interest in coal exports, we are not aware of a single complaint raised about coal trains.
Gateway Pacific Terminal is being permitted to handle 1 to 9 loaded trains per day. At maximum capacity, the terminal could handle 9 loaded trains a day and 9 empty trains a day, not the 20 you state in your article.
It’s also important to note that these trains may or may not go through the Seattle area or Ballard. BNSF has three main east-west routes through Washington state. Today, we do move some empty coal trains via Steven’s Pass. This means some empty coal trains are heading east at Everett and do not go through Ballard at all.
We believe the inaccurate information in this story needs to be corrected. We appreciate your consideration and effort to ensure your readers have the correct information.