2020 Tacoma Rail Highlights
Efficient and Reliable Service
Since 1914, we have worked to meet our primary goal of providing efficient, cost-effective rail service, and 2019 was no exception. We continued to fulfill our primary purpose of providing efficient, cost-effective rail service to the Port of Tacoma and Tacoma’s industrial areas (Tidelands Division), Lakeview (Capital Division), and the Frederickson (Mountain Division) in 2020.
Our line-haul count was down by more than 16,000 units in 2020 over 2019. A decrease in intermodal platform railcars predominately led to a reduction in line-haul revenue of approximately $2.9 million. Additionally, the Northwest Seaport Alliance experienced volatility in international intermodal trade leading to large monthly volume swings throughout 2020.
Unit trains and other commercial traffic were also down versus last year. While import automobiles volumes decreased the most of all non-intermodal commodities at 12%, most other commodities also experienced a decrease in traffic volumes.
State of Washington environmental rules mandating the execution of oil spill contingency plans were a focus for us. In October, we completed our second Department of Ecology supervised tabletop spill drill.
From 841 carloads in 2019, total traffic for the Capital Division decreased by 8% to 772 carloads. The division provides service to South Tacoma and Lakewood customers through a freight franchise on the rail line owned by Sound Transit. Expenses increased for the Capital Division as Positive Train Control (PTC) became functional.
We also operate the Mountain Division for the City of Tacoma. The number of carloads handled dropped 11% from 2019 volumes to 1,322 in 2020. Farwest Fabrication experienced an 85% drop in volumes, which led to the decrease. Expenses increased on the Mountain Division as PTC became functional. We continue to collect charges from the tariff implemented in 2018 to mitigate this expense.
We continue to work diligently to successfully provide efficient, cost-effective rail services every day.