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1/21/2003



Rail News: BNSF Railway

BNSF's promising fourth-quarter financial results cap cash-strapped year



Burlington Northern Santa Fe's financial fortunes finally turned at the end of 2002. After posting less-than-stellar first, second and third quarters, the Class I completed the year with a promising fourth quarter.


On Jan. 21, BNSF reported $2.27 billion in quarterly freight revenue, which was flat compared with the fourth quarter of 2001.


However, the railroad's quarterly operating income of $436 million increased $35 million, and quarterly operating expenses of $1.87 billion decreased $35 million, compared with the same 2001 period.


And BNSF's fourth-quarter operating ratio of 80.8 improved 1.6 points compared with fourth-quarter 2001.


"In spite of the economic challenges BNSF faced throughout 2002, we posted our fifth consecutive year-over-year quarterly record for on-time performance for our customers," said Matthew Rose, BNSF chairman, president and chief executive officer, in a prepared statement, adding that the railroad generated positive free-cash flow for the fourth straight year.


But 2002's first three quarters dampened BNSF's yearly results. The railroad's freight revenue of $8.87 billion dropped $220 million, operating income of $1.66 billion dipped $90 million, and its operating ratio of 81.3 worsened 0.6 points compared with 2001.


"Going forward, we will continue to focus on customer service, revenue quality, operating efficiencies and technological innovation," Rose said.


Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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