Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Inslee Presses Railroad Chiefs on Oil Train Safety

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee listens as Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark speaks to reporters on Wednesday. Inslee says he has urged the chiefs of Union Pacific and BNSF railroads to speed up safety improvements.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants oil trains to slow down and safety improvements to speed up. Inslee said Wednesday that he personally delivered that message to the CEO of Union Pacific and the executive chairman of BNSF over the last 48 hours.

“I’ve urged them to adopt safer cars now, I’ve urged them to reduce speeds now and I’ve urged them to consider electronic braking systems now,” Inslee said. “They should do these things now before we have further accidents and I will continue to urge them to do that.”

Inslee’s comments follow last Friday’s oil train derailment and fire in the Columbia River Gorge.

Federal rules now require new oil tank cars be built to a higher standard with older cars being retrofitted over time. The rules also require electronic braking for longer oil trains, but not until 2021.

The current allowed top speed for oil trains is 50 miles an hour, 40 in urban areas.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."