We’re sorry, embarrassed, and fixing our recent purchase. That was the sentiment from Puget Sound and Pacific this week to Commissioners at the Port of Grays Harbor, after recent slow-speed derailments in Grays Harbor.
“We’re in the business of moving freight, and we know that there is a lack of confidence in us to successfully move freight, and that’s what we do for a living.” Joel Haka, Senior VP of the Pacific Region railroads for Genesee & Wyoming, told Port Commissioners this week that the recent derailments are unusual, and unacceptable. “We don’t like to see derailments, and unfortunately we’ve had 3 pretty good sized derailments in the last month. We had a real small fourth one in Centralia about three weeks ago, in which nothing tipped over but it did leave the tracks and we had another issue.”
Haka said the first two derailments in Aberdeen were caused by mud spots, where he said mud pushed through stone underneath the railroad ties, the third derailment, behind Central Park, was caused by a thermal misalignment of the rail or “sun kinks.”
They purchased the local line from Rail America 18 months ago, Haka said they should have kicked the tires a little more, but “We believe in this railroad, we don’t have a lot of history with it quite frankly. We did not realize the state of the railroad and what it was , and now to insure that we don’t have any further derailments we have a real comprehensive 3-year plan.” Haka said the company plans to spend over 4.3 million this year, and nearly as much again next year on improvements to the line “That’s about three times the amount of money that Rail America put into this property. [in the two years prior]” The Puget Sound and Pacific Railroad operates about 150 miles of track from Centralia to the coast.