Main rail line south of Chehalis examined for tampering

Sep 27, 2011

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Sheriff's deputies and BNSF railroad police are investigating what they say are about a dozen instances of possible tampering with the tracks in southwest Washington. BNSF officials declined to make any connection with an ongoing labor dispute in Longview.

The busy main line between Chehalis and Vancouver, Wash., was temporarily shut down at midday Monday for inspection. Some Amtrak and freight trains were delayed by more than three hours. BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas says railroad security will continue to watch its traffic closely.

"By mid-afternoon we determined due to a thorough investigation of the physical plant that it was safe to move traffic through. So the line is open. We're running trains now through the corridor. But we will continue to keep an extremely close eye on all components of the rail operation," Melonas said.

Neither Melonas nor the Cowlitz County sheriff's office would provide details on how the rail line was tampered with. BNSF also wouldn't say whether the tampering had any connection with an ongoing labor dispute in Longview. Over the past month, numerous longshoremen and their supporters have been arrested for blocking rail shipments to a grain terminal staffed by a rival union.

Copyright 2011 Northwest News Network