Media & Press Inquiries

Updated statement from MRL as of 1830 – June 25

Transloading of the sodium hydrosulfide car nearest the river has been completed successfully and the car will be re-railed and moved to a secure location. This process entails moving the contents from one rail car to another rail car or truck. We are aware of reports of globs of asphalt appearing down river that may be associated with the derailment and we will proactively investigate and sample this material. Water quality sampling is being performed by a contractor on behalf of Montana Rail Link with oversight by Montana DEQ and EPA. Preliminary results do not show petroleum hydrocarbons or sulfur[…..]

Updated statement from MRL as of 0930 – June 25

Site work and remediation began Saturday evening and continues. Track repairs have been made enabling access to begin cleanup of the affected cars. Transloading of the sodium hydrosulfide car closest to the river is underway this morning. The car remains safely out of the water and there has been no release involving this material. We continue to closely monitor all releases involving molten sulfur and asphalt and mitigating any impacts to the site and surrounding area. Both of these substances harden and solidify quickly when interacting with water and modeling suggests that significant downstream movement of material is unlikely. Active[…..]

Updated statement from MRL as of 1500 – June 24

Initial assessment indicates compromised rail cars contained molten sulfur and asphalt.  Both substances solidify rapidly when exposed to cooler temperatures. Two cars carrying sodium hydro sulfate are also included in the consist. Neither of these cars have entered the water and initial air quality assessments have been performed and confirmed that there is no release event associated with those two cars. The present focus of operations is safely responding to the emergency, controlling all releases and mitigating impacts.  Throughout the response MRL will work with local, state and federal partners to assess impacts to natural resources and to develop appropriate[…..]

Initial statement from MRL – June 24

This morning, at approximately 6:45 a.m. MDT, a portion of a train traveling westbound near Reed Point derailed while traversing a bridge over the Yellowstone. The train crew is safe and no injuries have been reported. There are several cars in the river and the consist makeup did include several hazmat cars. The cause of the derailment is currently under investigation with MRL personnel and first responders onsite. DES and NRC have been notified. The safety of our employees and the public remains our top priority. We are committed to addressing any potential impacts to the area as a result[…..]

Joe Racicot named president of Montana Rail Link

The Washington Companies announced today that Joe Racicot, who has been Montana Rail Link (“MRL”) Vice President of Administration & General Counsel since 2015, has been named President, effective immediately. Mr. Racicot succeeds Derek Ollmann, who was just named President of Seaspan Marine Transportation. “While it saddens me to be leaving the MRL family, I am confident that MRL will continue to provide world-class customer service while maintaining its focus on safety,” said Derek Ollmann, “After working with Joe these last few years, I know he’s ready for the challenge of leading MRL through its next phase.” “Joe has the[…..]

Montana Rail Link honors veterans, essential workers with special locomotives

In honor of veterans across Montana, last week Montana Rail Link (“MRL”) unveiled a special locomotive thanking veterans for their service. In the coming weeks, MRL will unveil a second locomotive thanking all essential workers for their many contributions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Both locomotives serve as symbols of our appreciation for veterans and essential workers for their loyalty and dedication to this country. The intended route option for these locomotives is to work in regular freight service between Billings, MT and Sandpoint, ID. In addition to the tribute locomotives, the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation, in conjunction with Montana[…..]

MRL names Derek Ollmann president

Montana Rail Link (“MRL”) today announced that Washington Companies veteran Derek Ollmann, who most recently served as President of Southern Railway of British Columbia (“SRY”), part of the Washington Companies, has been named President of MRL, effective immediately. Mr. Ollmann succeeds Stacy Posey, who has stepped down from the company for personal reasons. Larry Simkins, Washington Companies President, said, “We are thrilled to have a candidate of Derek’s experience and caliber step into the President role at this exciting and dynamic time for MRL. Following a year of robust growth, record safety performance and strong employee engagement, MRL is well-positioned[…..]

Double track: Montana Rail Link wants to hasten trains through Missoula

From The Missoulian, May 14, 2018. Adding an extended siding across the overpass at East Missoula is another step on Montana Rail Link’s plan to improve the flow of freight trains through its Missoula yard. “It has one track across it now,” Jim Lewis, MRL’s information officer told the Missoulian on Friday. “Back in the Northern Pacific days it was a double track pretty far east of Missoula, and at some point that double track got ripped out. “What we’re doing is adding that track back, although we’re not going to be extending it as far as the NP did.”[…..]

Working on the railroad: Montana Rail Link workforce expands as train traffic rises

From The Missoulian, January 26, 2018. Montana Rail Link will hire 90 new track laborers and switchmen in what’s shaking out to be a milestone maintenance year for the short-line railroad. Spokesman Jim Lewis said MRL’s maintenance-of-way department alone will expand from 179 employees to 230. By winter they’ll have helped complete the last 10 miles of a decade-plus project to replace 160 miles of track with heavier, more durable rails. We civilians won’t notice the difference, but it’s a significant milestone for MRL, which will have spent the 2018 equivalent of $80 million on the switch-out. “We have been[…..]

Montana Rail Link and Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation partner in distribution of over 3,000 new sweatshirts to Montana schoolchildren

The Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation, in conjunction with Montana Rail Link (MRL) is pleased to announce they will be distributing over 3,000 new sweatshirts to seven Montana schools located along their rail route. This year’s schools are located in Laurel and Big Timber. The sweatshirts are in the school’s colors and include the school’s mascot. MRL employees will be distributing the sweatshirts on behalf of the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Foundation and MRL during school assemblies in December. Jim Lewis, Chief Information Officer for MRL, states, “This is our fourth year of distributing sweatshirts to Montana kids. This idea[…..]