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5/1/2002



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Small roads vital to BNSF's revamped carload network, but e-compliance is required, Rose says


Regionals and short lines will play a critical role in Burlington Northern Santa Fe's plans to redesign its carload network.
BNSF Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Rose April 30 sent small roads that message during his speech at American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
"We will promote a higher level of service and give more attention to branch-line shippers by enabling large and small railroads to focus on what they do best," he said. "We run unit trains to/from high throughput terminals and carload traffic over high-speed, high-volume mainlines, and through automated state-of-the-art classification terminals — our short-line partners can potentially do most everything else."
Rose believes small roads are better at managing carload products because they hold profit-and-loss responsibility, and are better-positioned to maintain front-line shipper/receiver relationships than most large railroads.
"You are in a unique position to 'sell' the carload product to decision-makers and decision-supporters while functioning as larger railroads' eyes and ears," Rose said.
However, BNSF's redesigned carload network will require frequent and uniform electronic car-location reporting — meaning the new system will need 100-percent participation from both short lines and Class Is.
"We're currently seeing more than 90 percent of our short-line traffic movement being reported electronically within 12 hours of the movement itself, but only 70 percent of our connecting short lines actually are participating," Rose said. "We need both numbers to be 100 percent by year-end and the reporting lag to be no more than eight hours. In the future, we will only consider a short-line operator for additional BNSF outsource opportunities that is e-compliant and can report to these standards."


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