Extra-long coal trains make the issue regional

OlympiaJune 28, 2013 

Thanks for the story on coal trains. That is a regional story. A few years ago, I passed through Chadron, Neb., and got to talking with a guy in a railroad pickup whose job is dealing with train wrecks on the line that parallels the road. The tracks had lines of lost coal on both sides of a giant conveyor belt running 100 or more coal car trains east to breakup yards at Grand Island, and back with empties.

Imagine what a 100-car, or longer, train would be like going through Missoula or Spokane or Vancouver day and night. Struggling towns like Chehalis or Centralia would be divided by walls of cars, loaded one way, empty coming back, that would finally finish them off. And what about the dozens of grade crossings from Wyoming to ports on the coast?

That is what takes this proposal from being a locally argued problem to a menace to the entire region.

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