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8/14/2002



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Washington short line starts up intermodal service at Wenatchee yard




Columbia Rail Intermodal Systems Aug. 13 began short-haul operations at Wenatchee Apple Yard in Wenatchee, Wash., to move eastern Washington growers' agricultural products to the ports of Seattle and Tacoma (for export to Asia) at truck-competitive rates.


Owned and operated by cold-storage warehousing and transloading firm Columbia Colstor Inc., Columbia Rail plans to divert up to 40,000 truckloads annually and save shippers between $50 and $100 per load by offering daily overnight container deliveries to the ports.


The short line, which operates container yards in Wentachee and Quincy, Wash., already has shipper commitments to move about 100 containers daily once the fruit season's in full swing in fall.


Since opening a short-haul rail operation in Quincy in January 2001, Columbia Rail has built business to between 50 and 100 containers monthly.


"The future of transportation in Washington State is intermodal/short-haul rail," said Columbia Colstor President Don McGraw in a prepared statement.


Columbia Rail, which connects with Burlington Northern Santa Fe, is linked to the Class I's computer system to ensure shipment schedules and enable shippers to track their freight.


"Our customers all had the same concerns when they first called — how can we be sure we won't get bumped off the rail lines, and what assurances do we provide that we can make schedule," said Columbia Rail President David Cannon. "Once we show them results, they sign up and it's back to the way shipping worked at the turn of the century."


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