A recent story about BNSF’s plans to double track our main line between Spokane Valley to Hauser, Idaho, incorrectly stated that train count numbers associated with a city-issued report are the reason why are moving forward with the project.
The numbers used by Spokane Valley in its TIGER grant application are not estimates provided by BNSF nor are they endorsed by the railroad. Freight rail traffic is dynamic and ebbs and flows based on market demand, customer needs and other factors. While BNSF expects rail volumes to continue to grow over the long term, we will continue to invest in capacity improvements to best manage the traffic we currently have on the railroad. The double-track work we’re doing in Washington and Idaho will help with our current volumes as well as any future growth. To be clear, we are moving forward with this project to ensure we are efficiently moving our current volumes.
The city’s grant application and other studies, such as the 2011 Marine Cargo Forecasts & Rail Capacity Study and the 2006 WSDOT Capacity Study, make assumptions about growth, but are not actual predictions of when and where growth will occur. The economy and the marketplace are the key drivers of changes in freight volumes. The WSDOT capacity study, for example, which was conducted during BNSF’s all-time volume record, was quickly thrown out of date by the Great Recession and is inconsistent with what has actually happened since then.
While BNSF plans on a multi-year basis, we review and approve capital investments on an annual basis. We have invested for a long time on that basis and will continue to do so. It is the best way to ensure that capacity expansion investments are made in response to actual market needs.
Courtney Wallace, regional director, Public Affairs, BNSF Railway