COMPETITION WATCH: OmniTRAX, BNSF announce branch lines transition

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CHEWELAH, Wash. — The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) and OmniTRAX have jointly announced a transition related to a railway’s ownership and operation.

OmniTRAX has assumed operation of a 160-mile cluster of branch lines of the BNSF running from Chewelah, Washington, and across the U.S.-Canada border to Columbia Gardens, British Columbia (BC), with a second line operating across the U.S.-Canada border at Laurier, Washington, serving Grand Forks, British Columbia, and returning to the U.S. at Danville, Washington, to its end point in San Poil, Washington.

OmniTRAX has created a new subsidiary to operate this former BNSF branch line network — the Kettle Falls International Railway LLC (KFR). KFR will operate 76.5 miles of purchased track from Kettle Falls to San Poil, Washington.

It has leased another 83 miles from Chewelah, Washington, to Columbia Gardens, BC. These lines operate across the U.S.-Canada border at three separate ports of entry: Boundary, Laurier and Danville.

According to OmniTRAX, the company will employ an aggressive industrial expansion strategy to help present rail customers grow, while attracting new industries to the area.

“The Kettle Falls International Railway is an ideal match with our strategic expansion and service plans,” said Bob Parker, OmniTRAX Chief Operating Officer. “KFR is a part of our plans for expansion of our regional railway holdings and diversification of our customer base.”

OmniTRAX also plans a number of improvements and expansions of KFR, including constructing a new interchange track to expedite interchange between BNSF and KFR at Chewelah. Plans also include construction of a locomotive maintenance facility in Kettle Falls.

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