BNSF: Coal trains won't congest Puget Sound cargo trains
BNSF Railroad CEO Matt Rose contends the railroad will be able to manage coal and containers without congestion.
With environmental hearings under way on Bellingham's controversial Gateway Pacific Terminal, which would handle bulk exports including coal, we thought it was time to share recent thoughts on the subject from Matt Rose, who runs BNSF, the railway that would serve the terminal.
The terminal is planned by Seattle-based SSA Marine Inc., operator of cargo facilities around the world.
Rose, the BNSF CEO, visited the offices of Puget Sound Business Journal in August to discuss several topics, and his spokespeople have assured us that he still holds the views he expressed then.
While Rose wouldn't comment on some of the issues surrounding coal exports, such as climate change, he was clear on several points: BNSF would not allow coal exports to slow container freight traffic through the region, and the number of coal trains may be fewer than some fear.
In terms of BNSF priorities, Rose said that intermodal containers are the single largest type of cargo the railway carries, generating 35 percent of BNSF units and 30 percent of revenue. Coal is next with 22 percent of units and 24 percent of revenue.
Rose shrugged off worries about export coal trains congesting the BNSF system, contending that his railroad’s analysis is that not all of the terminals proposed in the Pacific Northwest will be built, and only about eight loaded trains daily would pass through the Puget Sound region.
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