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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

BNSF idles 20 train sets, records fewer coal loadings because of reduced PRB mine production

Earlier this week, BNSF Railway Co. removed 20 coal train sets from service in the Powder River Basin (PRB) because of reduced mine production in Wyoming and Montana.

The railroad might park additional train sets in the region to balance empty train flow with mine loading capability.

Through July 18, mine production issues resulted in 102 missed coal train loading opportunities for the month, BNSF said. Those losses follow 164 missed loading opportunities in June. Recently, the railroad has parked up to 45 empty trains awaiting a load per day.

Through July 18, BNSF’s daily loadings in the PRB averaged 47.9 trains compared with 51.4 trains during the same July 2006 period. Year-to-date PRB loadings averaged 49.1 trains compared with 49 trains a year ago.

Despite the slowdown, BNSF continues to expand capacity in the region. On July 17, the railroad opened 15 miles of new third main track between Donkey Creek Junction and Caballo Junction north of the joint line BNSF shares with Union Pacific Railroad.

BNSF crews continue to build 24 miles of third main track on the joint line from Caballo Junction south to Reno Junction. After that project is completed later this year, the entire joint line will be triple-tracked; another 21 miles will be quadruple-tracked.

Systemwide through July 18, BNSF has loaded a total of 155.4 million tons of coal, about 1 percent more than last year.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/27/2007