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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

BNSF opens Wyoming triple-track section ahead of schedule


Yesterday, Burlington Northern Santa Fe opened an 8.3-mile section of third mainline between Walker and Shawnee Junction, Wyo., several months earlier than scheduled.

The Class I added the triple track to increase capacity for more than 120 loaded and empty coal trains that move in and out of the southern Powder River Basin daily.

BNSF stepped up the construction schedule to accommodate growing coal traffic, said Director of Engineering Services Gene Schubel in a prepared statement, adding that the railroad will add 5.8 miles of triple track to the line segment next spring because the area is "frequently a bottleneck for coal traffic."

Last year, coal trains moving over the Walker-to-Shawnee Junction or "Orin Line" carried 377 million gross tons; through September, trains already have carried more than 321 million tons over the line.

Because BNSF and Union Pacific Railroad jointly operate the Orin Line, the railroads split the $36 million construction cost. BNSF was responsible for construction.

Between 1994 and 1999, BNSF and UP have spent $160 million to add 38.7 miles of double track and 46 miles of triple track to the line, which was built in 1979 as a single track.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/28/2004