OLYMPIA – Washington’s farmers will have more shipping options to get their products to market starting this week when 29 newly acquired grain hopper rail cars begin service. The rail cars will be used to transport grain grown in eastern Washington to deepwater ports along the Columbia River and Puget Sound, and ultimately onto ships bound for Pacific Rim markets.
The grain cars were purchased to support the Washington Grain Train program, which provides farmers with much-needed dedicated rail cars to help ship state grain commodities from eastern Washington to the Puget Sound for export.
“Putting dozens of additional rail cars in service helps Washington farmers and our state’s economy by facilitating the export of our state’s grain products,” said Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said. “Our state is one of the highest producing grain regions in the nation and this investment will continue to reap real economic benefits for years to come.”
The 29 used rail cars were purchased for $362,500 and refurbished before beginning service. The Grain Train program is financially self-supporting as user fees pay to operate the program and purchase cars as funds become available. The cars added this week are assigned to collect grain between Coulee City and Cheney and carry it to Ritzville via the state-owned Palouse River and Coulee City (PCC) rail system for further transport to the Washington coast for export.
Washington is the fifth-highest producer of wheat products nationally. Washington’s Whitman County produces more wheat than any other county in the country. Since its beginning in 1994, the Grain Train program has moved more than 1.2 million tons of grain from Washington to national and international markets.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) jointly manages the Grain Train program with the ports of Walla Walla, Moses Lake, and Whitman County. WSDOT oversees the entire program and the port districts collect monthly payments for the use of the program’s 118 cars.