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Rail News: Mechanical

BNSF reaps fuel-saving benefits from workers' train-handling habits, warmer weather


Improved train-handling practices and winter weather have helped Burlington Northern Santa Fe reduce fuel usage

Last month, the Class I recorded 757.6 gross ton-miles (GTM) handled per gallon of fuel — BNSF's best fuel efficiency performance in March since 2001 even though the railroad's traffic has increased. The railroad saved $1 million in fuel costs last month compared with March 2003.

Workers have improved power and stretch braking practices, and reduced engine revving, and warmer winter weather enabled crews to increase locomotive shutdowns and isolations, said BNSF Assistant Vice President of Locomotive Distribution Jeff Wright in a prepared statement.

The Class I recorded 1,125 power braking incidents last month compared with more than 3,500 in March 2003 and 7,000 in March 2002. Stretch braking dropped 26 percent year-over-year from 28,763 incidents to 21,064.

"We save gallons of fuel every time we can avoid stretch braking, power braking or revving," said Wright. "We must continue to focus on becoming more efficient in areas such as these, because little steps add up to major savings."

During the first quarter, BNSF's average monthly GTM per gallon level reached 736.7, which was lower than the railroad's quarterly plan of 759.7. For all of 2004, BNSF set a goal to achieve 774.4 GTMs per gallon of fuel compared with 751.2 GTMs per gallon in 2003.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/29/2004