BNSF: Creating a Superior Customer Experience With New, Improved Technologies

Written by BNSF Railway Corporate Communications
(Photograph Courtesy of BNSF)

(Photograph Courtesy of BNSF)

At BNSF, we take pride in knowing that each of our customers receives a superior experience. By listening to our customers, we’re able to continue growing and evolving to improve the resources we offer them. Recently, we provided some upgrades and new customer experience tools so customers have the information they need to make the right choices for their businesses.  

Recent developments include enhancements to the Trace tool. This tool shows the customer’s entire freight portfolio on BNSF with the ability to drill in for additional information where needed. Trace complements our frequently used geofence, or virtual geographic boundaries defined by GPS, application.  Both provide real-time information via alerts and links. Recent additions to Trace consolidate alerts to customers about all their freight moving on the BNSF network – waybill, trip plans and equipment condition – providing the most comprehensive view yet. 

(Screenshot Courtesy of BNSF)

“With the new Trace features released in early 2023, customers can now track all their trains, units (freight cars) and Customer Support cases using one app,” said Carrie Whitman, BNSF General Director Marketing Systems. “The ability to schedule updates related to their cars, including specific events, supplements the information and Alerts in Trace for broad awareness should there be issues.” An Alert will surface the issue that may previously have been buried in emails.   

(Photograph Courtesy of BNSF)

Should there be issues related to their cars, they can use links within the Trace tool alerts to make modifications that keep their freight moving. Intermodal customers will also be alerted if their loads are in jeopardy or delayed. The BNSF team is continuing to add features to this tool.  

“BNSF has everything in one platform,” said Alexis Arenas-Andrade, Train Service Manager for intermodal customer J.B. Hunt. “You can search for containers, update freight status and review any load concerns, all in one application. It’s convenient and very user friendly.” 

(Photograph Courtesy of BNSF)

Along with Trace, we continue to improve the Railcar Management tool. Currently, this tool can be used by carload customers to coordinate freight in and out of a local facility.  

“This tool allows facilities to see all the freight cars coming to them, how many cars are at the nearby BNSF yard and how many cars are at their own facility,” Whitman said. “This pipeline management tool gives customers the power to better order-in cars, but also includes a day-by-day pipeline view of cars destined for the facility over 20 days for planning purposes.”   

With this view, customers can better anticipate surges or deficits in freight and adjust their plans accordingly to minimize additional charges from railroad-owned cars sitting idly.  

(Photograph Courtesy of BNSF)

In addition to enhanced tools, we have the most robust suite of application programming interfaces (APIs) of any Class I railroad, and we are seeing a steady increase in customer use. APIs provide a bridge between BNSF and customer systems, helping them to exchange real-time data more efficiently.  

“Essentially, a customer can use their systems to pull data based on their freight directly from BNSF,” Whitman said. “This allows customers to automatically get information when they need it rather than having to go through several steps, websites or applications to find it.” 

APIs help our customers improve shipment visibility by sharing real-time tracking information and reducing manual data entry. Customers can also take action directly in their own applications and transmit that action to us, for example, when they’re entering and exiting intermodal facilities to pick up and deliver freight.

(Photograph Courtesy of BNSF)

“BNSF APIs are game-changing,” said Dominic J. Pacella, President of Cushing Transportation Inc., a BNSF customer. “We benefit with real-time accurate data from tracing, verifying shipment information, tendered shipments and creating driver’s in-gate and out-gate.” 

BNSF has more than 40 APIs available for customers in our different businesses, including intermodal hub operations and our newest addition for automotive customers. For more information about our APIs, please visit  

Going forward, we’re working on a more comprehensive and easier-to-use self-help page that customers can use while in our customer portal. We plan to release a streamlined working space for customers who use our web tools daily. In this journey to grow with our customers, we’re always talking with them to find out what matters most so we can apply technology to enable effective daily interactions with BNSF.  

This article first appeared on the Rail Talk section of the BNSF website.

Tags: , , ,