BNSF sets capex plans in three states

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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A westbound BNSF train exiting Flathead Tunnel on Oct. 27, 2017. Bruce Kelly photo.

BNSF Railway Co. has announced 2018 capital expenditure programs for its system in three states—Montana, Missouri and Kansas—totaling $385 million, roughly 12% of its system-wide $2.4 billion 2018 program.

BNSF’s investment in its Montana territory will be approximately $135 million. It includes approximately 820 miles of track surfacing and/or undercutting work as well as replacement of nearly 60 miles of rail and about 200,000 ties. Multiple projects are scheduled on the Kootenai River Subdivision, which runs between Sandpoint, Idaho and Whitefish. BNSF will signalize various sidings on the subdivision between Sandpoint and Whitefish to enable Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) and make improvements to Flathead Tunnel, the seven-mile-long railroad tunnel in northwest Montana.

BNSF confirmed to Railway Age Contributing Editor Bruce Kelly that signalizing some sidings on the Kootenai River Subdivision will address what are known as “un-bonded” sidings that currently have no bond wires linking them to the CTC main line signal circuit. “Un-bonded sidings cannot display occupancy condition on the dispatcher’s screen, and trains must enter un-bonded sidings at restricted speed,” Kelly notes. “On a route that handles as many as 50 trains per day, when opposing trains meet at such slow speed at multiple locations, it can add up to measurable delay across the entire subdivision. BNSF’s planned signal upgrades will increase throughput on this often-congested segment of its Northern Corridor.”

Over the past five years, BNSF has invested approximately $850 million to expand and maintain its network in Montana.

“Freight rail connects Montana’s farmers and lumber producers with major U.S. markets, and with exports facilities ready to move their products overseas,” said Jon Gabriel, General Manager of operations, Montana Division. “Rail is also a vital component of getting the people of Montana the consumer products they need.”

The 2018 capital expenditure program in Missouri will be approximately $120 million. It includes approximately 730 miles of track surfacing and/or undercutting work as well as the replacement of nearly 30 miles of rail and about 220,000 ties. The changeout of the bridge over the Grand River near Bosworth will also be completed this year.

Over the past five years, BNSF has invested about $1 billion to expand and maintain its network in Missouri.

“Missouri’s position at the geographic center of the U.S. makes it a crucial point in our nation’s supply chain,” said Ben Sharpe, General Manager of Operations, Heartland Division. “These maintenance and expansion projects help ensure Missouri continues to move freight across our nation, including agricultural products from farmers across the state and consumer products making their way to U.S. markets from West Coast ports.”

BNSF’s 2018 capital expenditure program in Kansas will be approximately $130 million. It includes approximately 900 miles of track surfacing and/or undercutting work as well as replacement of nearly 20 miles of rail and close to 140,000 ties. BNSF will also construct two bridges in Quenemo, and add parking bays at the Kansas City Automotive Facility.

Over the past five years, BNSF has invested about $875 million to expand and maintain its network in Kansas.

“BNSF moves more than 3.8 million carloads of freight in Kansas each year,” said Matt Garland, General Manager of Operations, Kansas Division. “With access to all major U.S. markets, as well as several Mexican and Canadian markets and west coast and gulf coast ports, Kansas’ importance to the overall U.S. economy only continues to increase. As a result of BNSF’s projects in the state, Kansans can continue to rely on the dependability of a well-maintained rail network positioned for growth.”

The 2018 capital investments in each state are part of BNSF’s $3.3 billion network-wide capital expenditure program, announced in January. The program includes $2.4 billion to replace and maintain core network and related assets, approximately $500 million on expansion and efficiency projects, $300 million for freight cars and other equipment acquisitions, and $100 million for continued implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC).

BNSF says it is “the only Class I freight railroad to have completed the installation of PTC on all its federally mandated subdivisions and is currently running hundreds of trains daily with PTC as it tests revenue service across its mandated territory.”

Categories: C&S, Class I, Freight, M/W, PTC, Regulatory, Safety Tags: ,