BNSF has made substantial investments in the Great Northern Corridor to meet freight demands; however, more needs to be done to expand and improve the Corridor. Investments on this Corridor create a more efficient freight railway system to foster economic growth. These efficiency improvements mean fewer trucks on the road, lower emissions and a healthier, safer environment.
- Increased Capacity – BNSF has invested over $140 million on the Great Northern infrastructure in the last 10 years providing the capacity to take more trucks off the road. Several new sidings were installed and several sidings were extended. Since the Great Northern is primarily single track, sidings are used for trains to meet and pass when operating on a single mainline track. Siding extensions increase the length of the siding to allow for longer trains hauling more goods to use the siding while an oncoming train passes.
- Stampede Pass – BNSF resumed regular train service along the Stampede Pass line in 1996 in response to increased rail traffic in the State of Washington. Increased use of containerized freight and greater importance of time-sensitive trans-Pacific shipping required more capacity than could be accommodated over BNSF’s two other routes, Stevens Pass and the Columbia River Gorge. Over $250 million in improvements have been made on the Stampede Pass line between Auburn and Ellensburg, Washington. However, Stampede Pass Tunnel cannot accommodate trains carrying double-stacked containers, which is increasingly crucial for international and export trade traffic through the Ports and the Cascade Mountains. To fully optimize this route, more investment is needed to crown cut Stampede Pass Tunnel to allow for double-stack trains – this is expected to provide a 50% increase in regional freight mobility over the next couple of decades.
- Maintenance – More than $1.4 billion was spent on the Great Northern in the last 10 years to maintain its infrastructure to ensure the safe movement of goods. On average that is approximately $422,000 to maintain every mile.
With these investments and further improvements, the Great Northern Corridor is positioned as an essential gateway for critical goods movement such as American agricultural products to overseas markets, and finished products from overseas suppliers to American consumers.