State regulators have fined Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway $105,000 for not repairing railroad crossing defects in Skagit and Whatcom counties.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, the state agency responsible for railroad safety, including approving new grade crossings and closing or altering existing rail crossings, issued the penalty after it found BNSF did not fix defects at seven railroad crossings brought to the company’s attention most recently in 2012.
The commission sent BNSF a letter last Dec. 21, outlining the defects at the crossings and asking the company to fix them or propose a plan to repair them. In a follow-up Jan. 29 inspection, the UTC’s rail inspector revisited the defective crossing sites to find none had been repaired. The company had committed to repairing some of the defective crossings almost two years ago. The commission reported on Feb. 25 that it has still not received a response from BNSF.
The railroad company has 15 days to request a hearing, ask that the fine be reduced or pay the entire penalty.
BNSF, an wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., is the largest railroad company operating in Washington, with more than $103 million in revenues reported to the commission in 2011.
The UTC is the state agency responsible for railroad safety, including approving new grade crossings and closing or altering existing rail crossings. The agency investigates train accidents, inspects public-railroad crossings, approves rail-safety improvement projects and manages Operation Lifesaver, a rail-safety education program in Washington and nationwide.