Grain Train and Fruit Expressby Staff
Capital Press - June 14, 2002
In 1994, because of a nationwide shortage of rail grain cars, Washington state partnered with the Port of Walla Walla and the Blue Mountain Railroad to buy 29 grain cars with federal funds. In 2000, another 36 cars were purchased.
The cars transport grain from Eastern Washington to ports on the Columbia River and Puget Sound.
In the first quarter of 2002, 258 grain train carloads moved, up 28 percent from the same period in 2001. the value of the shipments was about $3.1 million and offset an estimated 735 heavy truckloads on the state's highways, according to the Washington state Department of Transportation rail office.
In 2000, the state Legislature authorized $500,000 to buy or lease refrigerated express railcars to haul fresh produce, particularly apples. The George Sellar Washington Fruit Express hauls produce behind Amtrak's Empire Builder with five-day shipping from Wenatchee to eastern markets.
The program is a partnership between WSDOT, the Cascade and Columbia River Railroad, ExpressTrak, the Washington State Department of Agriculture and several produce organizations.
First shipments left Wenatchee in September 2001. From September 2001 through March 2002, loadings were estimated to value $3.7 million.
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