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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

BNSF sets PRB coal loading record in September; targets completion of major trackwork in October

It didn't take BNSF Railway Co. long to set another monthly coal loading record in the Powder River Basin (PRB). In September, the Class I loaded an all-time-high 24.1 million tons of coal in the region, breaking the previous record of 24 million tons set in August. The railroad loaded 23.2 million tons of coal in September 2007.

BNSF also loaded a record daily average of 54.8 PRB coal trains in September, besting the previous high of 54.1 trains set in November 2007. September's average increased by more than two trains per day vs. September 2007's daily average of 52.4 trains.

On the Joint Line — which is used by BNSF and Union Pacific Railroad in the PRB — both Class I's daily loading average reached 71.1 trains in September, also establishing a new monthly record. The previous record of 70.9 trains was set in August. Both railroads loaded an average of 68.7 trains in September 2007.

During 2008's first nine months, BNSF loaded 204 million tons of coal in the PRB, a 2.6 percent increase compared with volume from the same 2007 period.

Meanwhile, BNSF on Monday began a $2.5 million curve replacement project between Tiger, Okla., and Racine, Mo. The railroad plans to replace more than 10 miles of rail on curves during the 26-day project.

A rail replacement crew comprising 31 workers will replace rail at an estimated rate of one-half mile per day.

By month's end, BNSF also expects to complete the final section of triple track in the Cajon Subdivision/Cajon Pass, which has been a double-track mainline since 1913. The railroad soon will finish a 6.5-mile Cajon-to-Keenbrook, Calif., section on the key route connecting southern California with the rest of BNSF's network. The phased triple-track project began last year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/7/2008