Thursday, August 15, 2013

BNSF: $335 million in capex for Montana, North Dakota

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
BNSF plans to invest an estimated $335 million to improve and expand rail capacity in North Dakota and Montana this year.

BNSF’s $220 million in 2013 capacity enhancement projects in North Dakota include constructing three new sidings west of Minot near Manitou, Tioga, and Palermo; extending the sidings near Glen Ullin and Hillsboro; improvements to six sidings between Minot and Grand Forks; raising 10 miles of track over Devils Lake by 1 to 5 feet to keep the track above rising water; upgrading the line between Berthold and Northgate on the Canadian border; installing CTC on three sidings near Devils Lake, Hillsboro, and Towner; constructing a new double crossover track east of Williston; and lengthening existing tracks or adding new tracks at BNSF rail yards in Mandan, Minot and Williston.

BNSF will also continue its track maintenance program in North Dakota, which will include nearly 1,900 miles of track surfacing and undercutting work, the replacement of about 315 miles of rail and 415,000 ties, as well as significant signal upgrades for PTC.

BNSF plans to invest an estimated $115 million on maintenance and rail capacity expansion projects in Montana this year. BNSF will expand capacity in Montana by constructing three new unit train staging tracks about three miles east of Glasgow and will enhance safety by adding Machine Vision technology at Miles City to help detect damaged equipment.

BNSF’s track maintenance program in Montana will include more than 2,300 miles of track surfacing and undercutting work, replacement of nearly 100 miles of rail and about 310,000 ties, as well as significant signal upgrades for PTC.

“BNSF’s capital investments in North Dakota and Montana will help ensure our network is prepared for growing demand for freight rail,” said Chairman and CEO Matt Rose. “We are focused on investing to meet our customers’ expectations and on expanding capacity where growth is occurring. Given the importance of a low cost supply chain to the U.S. economy, our privately funded rail infrastructure is well positioned to help all North Dakota and Montana industries compete in global markets.”

The planned capital investments in North Dakota and Montana are part of BNSF’s record 2013 capital commitment of $4.3 billion—the largest single-year capital program in the history of the North American freight railroad industry, and the cover story in Railway Age’s September 2013 issue. The largest component of the capital plan is spending $2.3 billion on BNSF’s core network and related assets. BNSF also plans to spend approximately $1 billion on locomotive, freight car, and other equipment acquisitions. The program also includes about $200 million for PTC and $800 million for terminal, line, and intermodal expansion and efficiency projects.

“Unlike other modes of transportation, U.S. freight railroads use their own private dollars, not tax dollars, to build and maintain their freight rail networks,” said Matt Rose. “Since the year 2000, BNSF has invested more than $42 billion to improve and expand its freight rail network.”