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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

BNSF, UP to build more mainlines and move more coal in the Powder River Basin

Lately, the Class Is’ coal-hauling capacity has been under scrutiny by a number of utility managers, who claim late rail deliveries are forcing them to curtail electricity production. Yesterday, Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway Co. announced plans to expand capacity on their joint southern Powder River Basin (PRB) line to meet current and projected coal demand.

During the next two years, the Class Is will spend about $100 million to build more than 40 miles of third and fourth mainlines to expand the line’s annual capacity to more than 400 million tons. The project doesn’t include 14 miles of third mainline constructed in spring 2005 and another 19 miles of third mainline the railroads expect to complete this month.

“On-going infrastructure development improvements in the southern Powder River Basin will enhance our ability to serve our customers and meet this nation’s energy demands,” said UP President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Young in a prepared statement.

For years, rail engineering firm CANAC has analyzed PRB coal production forecasts and railroad and mine infrastructure capacity. Earlier this year, CANAC presented preliminary findings from a fall 2005 study, which recommended the railroads build the third and fourth mainlines to meet projected coal demand from 2007 through 2009.

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More News from 5/9/2006