BNSF ready to redesign its carload network, Rose says (3/1/2002)


After successfully redesigning its coal, unit-grain and intermodal networks, Burlington Northern Santa Fe plans soon to redesign its carload network.

BNSF this year has posted coal-train on-time performance of 100 percent; unit-grain trains, more than 95 percent; domestic intermodal, nearly 95 percent; and international intermodal, more than 90 percent. But carload on-time performance percentages have hovered in the 80s.

"Today, many of the efficiencies — and much of the service potential — of our carload service network is being lost through the inefficiencies of traditional carload gathering and distribution," said BNSF President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Rose Feb. 28. at Pacific Northwest Association of Rail Shippers' Beaverton, Ore., seminar, according to a prepared statement. "A redesign of the carload network must have as its basis the development of new gathering and distribution networks."

The Class I's planned carload redesign gathering and distribution networks might include small roads ("Short lines and regionals could play a role not only in facilitating gathering and distribution, but also in developing rail traffic on a local basis," said Rose), distribution-center strategies that leverage rail and highway networks, and well-defined micro-networks, such as the railroad's rock-transportation network.

"Even though the network redesign process is just getting started, we believe we already have some opportunities to improve service and efficiency," said Rose, adding that a redesigned carload network's initial benefits will be similar to the railroad’s Interstate 5 corridor guaranteed-carload service between the Pacific Northwest, and California and Arizona, and a planned guaranteed-carload service to and from the Pacific Northwest.

"Guaranteed service in these lanes will be different from our previous carload service in that it will involve targeted trains, be linked to transload and short-line channel partners, and leverage a focused gathering and distribution network," he said.

To implement a redesigned carload network, Rose believes shippers and railroads will need to work together to resolve gathering and distribution infrastructure, and other related issues.

Source: Progressive Railroading Daily News