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4/22/2003



Rail News: BNSF Railway

First-quarter fuel costs mar BNSF's revenue-growth momentum


It's taken nearly two years, but Burlington Northern Santa Fe achieved its first year-over-year quarterly revenue growth since second-quarter 2001. On April 22, the Class I reported first-quarter freight revenue of $2.20 billion, a 3 percent increase compared with $2.14 billion in first-quarter 2002. BNSF also increased quarterly fuel-surcharge revenue $16 million.


However, the railroad's quarterly operating expenses of $1.89 billion rose $103 million compared with the same 2002 period, largely because fuel
expenses jumped 49 percent ($90 million) to $274 million.


BNSF's quarterly operating income of $346 million dropped $34 million and operating ratio of 84.3 worsened 2.1 points compared with a similar 2002 period.


"Excluding the impact of higher fuel prices, our operating expenses were essentially flat and the operating ratio would have been approximately 1 point lower than the first quarter of the prior year," said Matthew Rose, BNSF chairman, president and chief executive officer, in a prepared statement. "We believe revenue growth will continue this year, along with earnings growth, even though the outlook for certain segments of the U.S. economy continues to be cloudy."


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