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Rail News: BNSF Railway

BNSF drove up revenue, drove down operating ratio in Q4


BNSF Railway Co.'s revenue eclipsed the $6 billion mark in fourth-quarter 2014 primarily because of strong industrial products, agricultural products and coal business, according to a financial performance summary released by the Class I yesterday.

Revenue climbed 7 percent to nearly $6.2 billion in Q4, while operating income increased 5 percent to $2.1 billion, net income grew 2 percent to $1.2 billion and volume rose 2 percent to 2.65 million units compared with fourth-quarter 2013 figures. In addition, the railroad's operating ratio improved 1.3 points to 65.3 even though operating expenses increased 6 percent to about $4.1 billion.

By business group, consumer products revenue was flat at $1.8 billion and volume dipped 1 percent to 1.28 million units; industrial products revenue jumped 10 percent to $1.6 billion and volume climbed 9 percent to 512,000 units; coal revenue rose 4 percent to $1.3 billion and volume grew 5 percent to 592,000 units; and agricultural products revenue soared 19 percent to $1.2 billion and volume increased 6 percent to 262,000 units.

"Service challenges hindered consumer products volumes for much of 2014," BNSF officials wrote in the summary. "Automotive and international intermodal volume increases were mostly offset by domestic intermodal decreases."

In the industrial products sector, crude unit-train loadings and frac sand volumes drove business gains, while heightened customer export demand following record grain harvests in late 2013 and 2014 helped ramp up ag products volume.

"Service challenges muted the potential for additional [ag products] volume growth, but improvements late in the fourth quarter helped lead to record quarterly Pacific Northwest grain exports," BNSF officials said.

For the full year, the Class I's revenue climbed 6 percent to $23.2 billion, operating income grew 6 percent to $7 billion, net income increased 2 percent to $3.9 billion and volume rose 2 percent to 10.3 million units compared with 2013 figures. The operating ratio was flat at 69.2 and operating expenses increased 6 percent to $16.2 billion.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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