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Rail News: BNSF Railway

BNSF continues to expand intermodal, automotive capacity


BNSF Railway Co. capped off "a year of transition" in 2014 and is optimistic about the future as the railroad aims to continue building business, wrote Group Vice President-Consumer Products Katie Farmer last month in a letter to customers.

Although strong volumes affected service last year, BNSF is committing billions of dollars to maintain and grow the Class I's network, she wrote in the letter dated Dec. 15. The railroad's revised capital spending budget reached $5.5 billion in 2014 and approved budget for 2015 is set at a record $6 billion.

"We kicked off a number of intermodal- and automotive-specific projects in 2014," Farmer wrote. "Projects that positively impacted service while providing additional capacity for our intermodal network include the completion of the Tower 55 project."

Located near downtown Fort Worth, Texas, Tower 55 is one of the nation's busiest and most-congested railroad intersections. As many as 100 freight and passenger trains move through the area daily. The completion of the project last year has helped improve network fluidity, benefitting traffic moving through the key area, Farmer wrote.

BNSF also kicked off double-track projects last year to address the remaining Transcon bottlenecks between Los Angeles and Chicago. Over the past 10 years, BNSF has invested more than $3 billion to double-track nearly all of the line, making it the fastest intermodal route connecting Southern California to the Midwest, Farmer said.

"When complete in 2015, nearly all of the Transcon will be double tracked, and even triple tracked in some areas. In addition, we have completed several terminal expansions in the Chicago area and added 800 new container and trailer parking spots at three Chicago hub facilities," she wrote.

In the auto network, BNSF last year opened the new Big Lift automotive facility serving Denver and other points in Colorado. The 57-acre facility has more than three times the acreage of the previous facility and offers more capacity and greater highway access, said Farmer.

"We also increased track capacity for loading operations at our San Diego, Albuquerque and Pearland Hubs, and we increased automotive parking capacity at our Portland, Logistics Park Chicago and Albuquerque facilities," she wrote.

In addition, the railroad doubled capacity at its auto facility in Kansas City after transitioning all intermodal business to Logistics Park Kansas City, which opened in late 2013.

The overall capacity added in 2014 and projects pegged for 2015 "will help us handle future volumes and allow BNSF to continue to grow in support of our customers," Farmer wrote.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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