Ballard Terminal Railroad

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ballard Terminal Railroad Company LLC
HeadquartersSeattle, Washington
Reporting markBDTL, MSN, EFRX
LocaleSeattle, Washington, United States
Dates of operation1997 (1997)–present
PredecessorBNSF Railway
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length3 miles (4.8 km)
A Ballard Terminal Railroad crossing about ten blocks south of where these tracks join the BNSF Railway

The Ballard Terminal Railroad Company LLC (reporting mark BDTL) operates two Class III short line terminal railroads in western Washington, United States. Founded in 1997 to operate a three-mile spur through Seattle's Ballard neighborhood, the Ballard Terminal Railroad has expanded to operate two additional lines in the Puget Sound area, including Eastside Freight Railroad (reporting mark EFRX) from Snohomish to Woodinville, Washington, and Meeker Southern Railroad (reporting mark MSN), a 5 mi (8.0 km) segment from East Puyallup ("Meeker") to McMillin, Washington. Eastside Freight Railroad has ceased operation as of mid 2020.


Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway stopped offering service on a three-mile spur through Seattle's Ballard neighborhood in January 1997 because only three companies were buying rail shipments, a traffic volume too low to sustain the line according to BNSF.[1] To ensure continued rail service, the three previous customers served by the spur and a fourth company joined with other investors to form the Ballard Terminal Railroad Company, LLC in 1997.[2][3] The Ballard Terminal Railroad refurbished two locomotives and approached the state of Washington seeking approximately $300,000 in financing to refurbish the track.[1] The railroad began operation in early 1998 with a 1940s-era locomotive formerly belonging to the Milwaukee Road.[citation needed]


The EMD SW1 locomotive operated by the Ballard Terminal Railroad, nicknamed "Li'l Beaver."

Ballard Terminal Railroad operates one locomotive,[4] an EMD SW1 locomotive numbered 98 formerly owned by Milwaukee Road. The locomotive's black, red and silver livery and nickname, "Li'l Beaver", pay tribute to the colors and mascot of nearby Ballard High School.[citation needed]

Eastside Freight Railroad once operated an EMD SW1200 locomotive now numbered MSN 109 built in 1963 for the Missouri Pacific. Eastside Freight purchased the locomotive from Tacoma Rail in 2009, which had it listed as surplus property.[citation needed]

Meeker Southern Railroad operates an EMD SW9 locomotive numbered 103.[citation needed]


The Ballard Terminal Railroad operates three rail lines in the greater Seattle area.[4][5]

Ballard Terminal[edit]

Ballard Terminal Railroad train operating immediately north of the grounds of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks.

The Ballard Terminal Railroad spur begins at its connection to the BNSF mainline at the Shilshole yard just north of N.W. 68th Street. The line follows a route along Seaview Avenue N.W. toward Shilshole Ave N.W. which the line parallels until N.W. 45th Street. The line follows N.W. 45th Street until Leary Way N.W., which the line then parallels, passing the Bright Street Yard, then reaching its terminus at N.W. 40th Street and 6th Ave N.W. near the border between the Ballard and Fremont neighborhoods.[6][7] The Ballard Terminal Railroad owns its tracks outright, but has a 30-year lease on the land underneath, which belongs to the city of Seattle. Most of the railroad was originally part of the Great Northern Railway's main line, moved to the west when the Lake Washington Ship Canal was built.[citation needed]

Meeker Southern[edit]

Meeker Southern Railroad's segment runs 5 mi (8.0 km) from East Puyallup ("Meeker") to McMillan, Washington. [4][5]

Eastside Freight[edit]

Eastside Freight Railroad, which started operation in 2009 on the former BNSF Railway's Woodinville Subdivision, is a segment from Snohomish to Woodinville. [4][5] Eastside Freight Railroad has ceased operation as of mid 2020.

Eastside Rail Corridor[edit]

On April 1, 2013 Ballard Terminal Railroad filed a federal lawsuit aimed at preventing the City of Kirkland from converting the section of the Eastside Rail Corridor which passes through the city into a trail.[8] On May 3, 2013 Federal District Court Judge Marsha Pechman granted the City of Kirkland's motion to dismiss the case filed by Ballard Terminal Railroad Company seeking to prevent rail salvage on the Cross Kirkland Corridor. In her oral ruling, Judge Pechman stated the Federal District Court did not have jurisdiction to consider Ballard's temporary restraining order (TRO) and that the Surface Transportation Board was the proper forum for adjudicating Ballard's claims. On Aug. 1 2013 the Surface Transportation Board denied the request by Ballard Terminal Railroad Company to block rail removal along the Cross Kirkland Corridor.[citation needed]


As of 2008, the Ballard Terminal Railroad serves only one customer on the Ballard Spur, Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel. BNSF delivers cars containing cement, fly ash, stucco and mortar to the Shilshole Yard; the Ballard Terminal Railroad then delivers these cars to Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel two to three times per week, typically at night.[4]


In 2007 the Ballard Terminal Railroad received the Jake Award With Distinction, a safety award given by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association to railroads with no reportable injuries.[4]


  1. ^ a b Erb, George (August 22, 1997). "Local Motives Fuel Fight To Restore Rail Service". Puget Sound Business Journal. Seattle, Washington: American City Business Journals. 18 (15): 4(1). ISSN 8750-7757.
  2. ^ "Shippers Team Up To Save Short Line". Railway Age. Simmons-Boardman Publishing. 199 (6): 20. June 1998. ISSN 0033-8826. After Burlington Northern and Santa Fe shut down three miles of waterfront line along the Lake Washington Ship Canal in Ballard, Wash., last year, four shippers got together to form the Ballard Terminal Railroad Co. Last month, BRTC was awarded a $350,000 loan by the Washington State Department of Transportation for rehabilitation of the deteriorated track. When that is completed, the new short line will again move such commodities as fish, furniture, sand, cement, and lubrication oil.
  3. ^ Erb, George (September 19, 1997). "Complex Deal Restores Ballard Railroad". Puget Sound Business Journal. Seattle, Washington: American City Business Journals. 18 (19): 3. ISSN 8750-7757.
  4. ^ a b c d e f LeBlanc, Brian (December 15, 2008). "Ballard Terminal Railroad Delivers Local Freight". Ballard News-Tribune. Seattle, Washington: Robinson Communications. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
  5. ^ a b c "Eastside Rail Corridor". Port of Seattle. 2008. Archived from the original on July 3, 2011.
  6. ^ Bishop, Todd (April 14, 2003). "Burke-Gilman Extension As Seen by Business: City Says Changes Would Be Safe; Rail Workers Not So Sure". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Hearst Seattle Media, LLC.
  7. ^ Schilperoort, Rebekah (November 20, 2007). "Missing Trail Link Planned". Ballard News-Tribune. Seattle, Washington: Robinson Communications. Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved July 8, 2009.
  8. ^ Triplett, Kurt (April 2, 2013). "Important Message About the Cross Kirkland Corridor". City of Kirkland. Archived from the original on 2013-04-17. Retrieved 2013-04-02.

Coordinates: 47°39′48″N 122°22′47″W / 47.663294°N 122.379668°W / 47.663294; -122.379668