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BNSF Railway Co. yesterday announced Montana Rail Link (MRL) as the winner of its 2013 Shortline of the Year and the Bighorn Divide & Wyoming Railroad (BDW) as the recipient of a Special Recognition Award.The Class I recognized MRL for its significant growth and continued emphasis on a strong safety record, BNSF officials said in a press release. MRL, which connects with BNSF mainlines in Huntley, Mont., and Sandpoint, Idaho, has been handling record volumes of overhead traffic this year through a 2012 agreement that ensures adequate capacity on the regional's route to meet future demand, they said."MRL is an important business partner committed to enhance service to customers by focusing on network and terminal velocity initiatives, responding to changes in traffic volume, and investing in infrastructure while always emphasizing the safety of employees," said Dean Wise, BNSF's vice president of network strategy.The 957-mile MRL serves three oil refineries, an electric utility, a large wood chip facility, intermodal and automotive terminals, and facilities operated by producers of agriculture, talc, finished lumber, particleboard lime and cement."Our vision is to be the 'best of the best' in safety, customer satisfaction and ingenuity," said MRL President Tom Walsh.BNSF recognized BDW for its commitment to growth, customer service and efficiency. The short line, which interchanges with the Class I in Bonneville and Bishop, Wyo., "has provided great customer service and aggressively invested in capacity for new customers," BNSF officials said. BDW has grown at an annual growth rate of 14 percent over the past 10 years, nearly quadrupling its volume since 2003, they said.The Class I created the awards to honor short lines that "exceed the railway's expectations for innovation, determination, vision and entrepreneurial spirit," BNSF officials said.
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