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We take this kind of incident seriously. For obvious reasons, we’ve deleted the text so that you now have to go to the origin to read the content.

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21 Replies to “BNSF, Washington State to Pioneer HSR Negotiations”

  1. I \^/ BNSF

    UPRR is the daytraders railroad all they care about is the current quarterly earnings, no long term vision and minimal investment in infrastructure improvements. certainly not how to run a railroad, but perhaps how to run one into the ground.

    its entirely possible that in the future passenger rail will be profitable again, at least BNSF is keeping an open mind.

    1. It certainly helps when you have a long termer like Warren Buffett owning your company.

      Huh, just realized something, as Berkshire Hathaway owns BNSF, and Warren Buffett is steadily giving almost his entire stake in BH to the Gates Foundation, I guess that means that ultimately the Gates Foundation either owns the majority of BNSF or soon will. Hmmm….

      1. The Gates foundation may find HSR and passenger rail complementary to their goals. I have never liked Microsoft’s policies (being a Linux/free software fan), but Gates has been pretty smart in recent years, putting his money into things that benefit mankind and nobody else is financing. I’ve been wondering, if I have any money when I die, I might do what Buffet did and donate it to the Gates Foundation.

        Also, Gates Sr at least has been promoting the estate tax. Whatever you think of that, he’s arguing for the ordinary man and against his personal benefit.

      2. Buffett is giving his money to the Gates Foundation as a good way of managing it for charitable giving, because he believes the Gates Foundation is doing a good job. I don’t believe he is giving his controlling stake in BH to Gates! Whoever buys the shares in BH that Buffett sells will own that portion of BNSF.

      3. I don’t think the Gates Foundation is selling all their BH shares. They are required by law to sell some, and in a few years by agreement to sell more and more of what he transfers to them each year. However if I am reading it right, the Foundation is holding onto a good chunk.

  2. I like how BNSF sees itself much more of a corporate citizen then the other railroads and has a better understanding on how to do public-private partnerships. Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, etc.

    1. It does, indeed.

      Since the North Carolina Railroad ownership lawsuits changed its management’s thinking, Norfolk Southern has actually been pretty good too, though not as good as BNSF. The fact that NS objected to the FRA proposal indicates that it wasn’t well-thought-out. I suspect whatever BNSF comes back with will be accepted by NS.

      Not so sure about CSX and UP, which have been behaving asininely.

  3. BNSF has an ego problem. If they don’t like the guidelines, don’t take the money. The point wasn’t to increase BNSF’s profits with tax-payer money, it was to help us.

  4. A predecessor entity of BNSF was headquartered in Seattle. BNSF is now headquartered in Fort Worth Texas.

  5. When the railroad companies were first chartered by the government, they created corporate personhood, setting in motion a huge swath of destruction of the web of life.

    When private companies got control over the streetcars, they tore them out to forced us to drive smogmobiles.

    Let’s pay attention to history and keep the government firmly in control of the means of high-speed transit.

    1. Um, at least in Seattle the streetcars were replaced with electric buses in the early 1940s due to a Federal grant. :)

    2. Umm…the majority of streetcar lines (and transit lines in general) were originally built by private companies that got a city/local franchise to use the city streets, etc.

      Later, most were bought out/taken over by the local cities after not being able to afford to keep running, often due to not being allowed to raise fares.

  6. Let’s focus on what BNSF is doing now, not on the 19th-century robber barons. I can’t think of anything particularly wrong with BNSF. I’d like more Sounder and Amtrak runs, but BNSF seems to be cooperating in these areas at least reasonably well. They’re gradually upgrading the track. Perhaps they could do it faster; I don’t know. If they put an investment into HSR, naturally they would want an ownership stake. If the government funds it completely, then it can be the pure owner, but then it would have to fund it completely.

    I’m not sure which level of HSR this agreement relates to. Incremental improvements, the more the better. True HSR would require completely new tracks and probably a different ROW, so it would be a separate investment.

  7. Is there any plan to deal with the single track tunnel under Downtown Everett? That seems to be a choke point impacting North Sounder, Amtrak and BNSF. With the connection from Snohomish to Renton now severed, almost everything heading over the Stevens Pass mainline goes through this bottleneck (Freight can go around north Everett, which is why it’s not a priority for BNSF). Perhaps it would be a good candidate for federal dollars. As long as we’re going tunnel crazy, why not add one more to the list…

    1. A tunnel under downtown Everett? Don’t you mean Seattle? The tunnel under downtown Seattle is quite old and critical part of the rail infrasturcture.

      There is a bottle neck in Everett, but the WSDOT has spent money to improve the track through Everett in order to help both rail and passenger trains.

    2. Currently the passenger service through that tunnel consists of:
      * North Sounder
      * Amtrak Cascades North (4 per day)
      * Empire Builder (2 per day)

      And as you said, the freight can bypass it.

      This is a bottleneck which isn’t actually a bottleneck yet. It won’t be a priority until there’s a lot more traffic.

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