Freight - Rail freight


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Freight measures for rail freight

Rail freight

Rail freight comomodities The types of commodities shipped and the tonnage over years by rail. Statewide data for 2020 was not available at the time of publication.



Source: WSDOT Rail, Freight, and Ports Division.
Note: 2021 data not available at the time of publication.

Multi-year trends

Freight rail commodities shipped increased steadily from 121.2 million tons in 2016 to 127.3 million tons in 2020. The top three most shipped freight rail commodities include farm products, coal and hazardous materials. Washington state's top rail shipment: Farm products include agricultural crops such as soybeans, corn, wheat and dried peas.

Annual highlights

In 2020, railroads in Washington state transported 127.3 million tons of freight, a 1.5% decrease from the 129.2 million tons transported in 2019. The overall decrease was driven by significant decreases in corn shipments.

The amount of inbound rail freight (freight that originated outside Washington and was transported to a destination within the state) increased by 1.8% from 67.0 million tons in 2019 to 68.2 million tons in 2020. Inbound freight made up 53.8% of all statewide rail freight in 2020. Freight rail shipments passing through Washington (with both origin and destination outside the state) accounted for 29.2% (37.2 million tons) of total rail freight tonnage, compared to 38.2 million tons in 2019. Approximately 15.6 million tons of outbound rail freight (which had an in-state origin and an out-of-state destination) was transported in Washington state in 2020, making up 12.2% of total freight rail tonnage. The remaining 4.9% (6.3 million tons) of rail freight was intrastate, with both origin and destination inside Washington.

In 2019, railroads in Washington state transported 129.2 million tons of freight, a 4.4% decrease from the 135.2 million tons transported in 2018. The overall decrease was driven by significant decreases in corn shipments.

The amount of inbound rail freight (freight that originated outside Washington and was transported to a destination within the state) decreased 6.6% from 71.7 million tons in 2018 to 67 million tons in 2019. Inbound freight made up 51.8% of all statewide rail freight in 2019. Freight rail shipments passing through Washington (with both origin and destination outside the state) accounted for 29.6% (38.2 million tons) of total rail freight tonnage, compared to 40.6 million tons in 2018. Approximately 17.2 million tons of outbound rail freight (which had an in-state origin and an out-of-state destination) was transported in Washington state in 2019, making up 13.3% of total freight rail tonnage. The remaining 5.3% (6.8 million tons) of rail freight was intrastate, with both origin and destination inside Washington.

In 2018, railroads in Washington state transported 135 million tons of freight, a 5.4% increase from the 128 million tons transported in 2017. The overall increase was driven by increases in corn shipments and hazardous material shipments.

The amount of inbound rail freight (freight that originated outside Washington and was transported to a destination within the state) increased 8.7% from 65.9 million tons in 2017 to 71.7 million tons in 2018. Inbound freight made up 53% of all statewide rail freight in 2018. Freight rail shipments passing through Washington (with both origin and destination outside the state) accounted for 30% (40.6 million tons) of total rail freight tonnage, compared to 39.5 million tons in 2017. Approximately 16.2 million tons of outbound rail freight (which had an in-state origin and an out-of-state destination) was transported in Washington state in 2018, making up 12% of total freight rail tonnage. The remaining 5% (6.7 million tons) of rail freight was intrastate, with both origin and destination inside Washington.


In 2017, railroads in Washington state transported 128 million tons of freight, a 5.8% increase from the 121.2 million tons transported in 2016.

The amount of rail freight shipped to and terminating in the state held steady from 2016 to 2017 at 65.9 million tons, making up 51% of all statewide rail freight, a decrease from 54% in 2016. Freight rail shipments passing through Washington (starting outside the state and not terminating in the state) accounted for 31% (39.5 million tons) of total rail freight tonnage—an 18% increase in tonnage from 2016 (33.5 million tons). The pass through increase is due in part to a 37% increase in chemical product shipments, which grew with fertilizer (potash) being shipped through Washington from a Canadian mine to the Port of Portland for export. The major driver behind the increase in freight moving through the Washington is coal shipment from Montana to British Columbia.

In 2016, railroads in Washington state transported 121.2 million tons of freight, a 4% increase from 116.6 million tons in 2015. Fifty-four percent (65.9 million tons) of rail freight in the state was shipped here and terminated here—a 13% increase in tonnage from 2015 (58.4 million tons). Freight rail shipments passing through Washington (starting outside the state and not terminating here) accounted for 28% (33.5 million tons) of total rail freight tonnage—a 7% decrease in tonnage from 2015 (35.8 million tons).

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