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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

BNSF customers now can track progress of MOW projects via the Internet


Shippers concerned about possible transit delays caused by Burlington Northern Santa Fe's trackwork can either confirm or end their fears by logging onto the Class I's Web site. BNSF recently began providing information on track maintenance projects via the Internet as a complement to written customer advisories.

Accessible through a "Planned Track Maintenance" application, the online tool enables customers to click on a region of a map and receive a description of any maintenance projects occurring in that location. The tool also provides project dates and types, a list of potentially affected trains and estimated delay times.

"This new tool will make it easier for customers to 'see' maintenance projects that might affect the routes on which their shipments move," said BNSF Vice President of Engineering Greg Fox in a prepared statement.

BNSF currently is providing customers online information about a track maintenance blitz scheduled for Jan. 8-23 on a 120-mile Bakersfield-to-Fresno, Calif., line. Involving more than 300 employees, the project includes renewing rail and bridges, replacing 14 track miles, installing 38,250 wood ties and improving drainage.

Each day of the blitz, the railroad plans to open the line to a limited number of trains for 14 hours, as well as run trains on another railroad's line.

Maintenance-of-way projects are part of BNSF's annual $1.9 billion capital spending budget, which increased more than 10 percent compared with the railroad's $1.73 billion 2003 budget. This year, the Class I expects to take delivery of 342 locomotives that originally were part of 2005 capital spending projections.

"Deliveries will be advanced to take advantage of bonus depreciation that 'sunsets' at the end of this year and because of new emissions standards that take effect in 2005," says BNSF spokesman Pat Hiatte. "We're expecting the 2005 capital program to be lower since it won't include the locomotives."

Jeff Stagl