Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
BNSF’s second-annual awards program recognizing customers for significant achievement in sustainability is now open for nominations.

BNSF’s second-annual awards program recognizing customers for significant achievement in sustainability is now open for nominations.

BNSF opens nominations for its 2023 sustainability awards program. Also, CN and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) reach a tentative agreement; Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) celebrates its hydrogen locomotive pilot program on Earth Day; CSX recognizes 13 customers for environmental excellence; and executives from CPKC, Norfolk Southern (NS) and Union Pacific (UP) earn spots on the Constellation Research ESG50 List for 2023.

BNSF’s second-annual awards program recognizing customers for significant achievement in sustainability is now open for nominations. The Class I railroad is asking customers to describe “the strides your company has made regarding sustainability” and to submit, if applicable, supplementary materials by June 15. Winners will be announced in third-quarter 2023.

If selected for a Sustainability Award, BNSF said customers will attend the 2023 BNSF Sustainability Awards Winners Ceremony in Fort Worth, Tex.; be featured on the BNSF RailTalk corporate blog; and receive a BNSF Sustainability Award digital emblem that can be added to their corporate website and other materials.

In 2022, BNSF honored six customers with awards: U.S. Steel’s Big River Steel, Chevron Phillips Chemical, Ford Motor Company, Global Clean Energy, J.B. Hunt and Marathon Petroleum Corporation.

CN on April 23 reported reaching a tentative agreement with TCRC, which represents approximately 6,000 locomotive engineers, conductors, yard conductors and yard coordinators working on the Class I’s Canadian main line, short lines and yards.

The union said it “will not be commenting publicly on the details of the agreement until all members have had a chance to view them first.” Electronic voting is slated to open May 5 and close May 26.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the TCRC,” CN President and CEO Tracy Robinson said. “We would like to thank their leadership for engaging with CN in proactive and productive discussions, ensuring uninterrupted service for our customers. We look forward to working with them in the future.”

“Now that we have reached a tentative agreement, it will be important for members to attend their local meeting, get informed, and vote to shape the future of their working conditions,” TCRC President Paul Boucher said.

TCRC on Dec. 23 ratified a new collective agreement with CN, covering approximately 160 rail traffic controllers in Canada.

CPKC on April 22 (Earth Day) released via Twitter and LinkedIn a new video showcasing its first hydrogen fuel cell (HFC)-powered freight locomotive and celebrating sustainable operations.

Last month, Bilton Welding and Manufacturing Ltd. reported wrapping up work on the second of three HPC-powered locomotives for the Class I. The first, currently under test, marked a milestone in November with its inaugural revenue move.

In 2020, prior to the merger with Kansas City Southern, Canadian Pacific (CP) began its Hydrogen Locomotive pilot program with the retrofit of an existing diesel-electric linehaul locomotive. The diesel prime mover and traction alternator were replaced with HFC and battery technology to power the unit’s electric traction motors. In November 2021, CP received a $15 million 50% matching grant from Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) to expand the initiative to three locomotives (two linehaul units and one switcher), install hydrogen production facilities at two locations, and create a “global center of excellence in hydrogen and freight rail systems” in Alberta. 

By the end of 2023, the three program locomotives, plus the two hydrogen production and fueling facilities in Calgary and Edmonton, will be in operation, the Class I confirmed March 7. CPKC President and CEO Keith Creel, Railway Age’s Co-Railroader of the Year for 2022, said at a New York conference last fall that “we’re going to have a hydrogen locomotive switching customer in Edmonton. A hydrogen locomotive switching customer in Vancouver. And one switching in Calgary.”

CSX has honored 13 companies with 2023 Customer Environmental Excellence Awards. In the second year of the annual awards program, winners were selected in two categories: Highway-to-Rail Conversions (customers whose conversions resulted in “substantial emissions savings during the previous year”) and Innovation (customers who “demonstrated the greatest environmental ingenuity through their transportation initiatives”).

CSX on April 21 reported that award recipients included Ford, MillerCoors, National Cement, Sylvamo North America, Unilever and USG Corporation (United States Gypsum) in the Highway-to-Rail Conversions category; and Georgia-Pacific and Nucor in the Innovation category for their announced Dixie Paper manufacturing facility in Jackson, Tenn., and sheet mill plant in Apple Grove, W.Va., respectively.

“Freight shippers are increasingly choosing rail transportation to support a cleaner environment while taking advantage of CSX’s service reliability and innovative supply chain solutions,” said CSX Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Kevin Boone, who in 2022 was selected as one of 20 Influential Leaders by Railway Age readers. “The CSX Environmental Excellence Awards recognize the efforts of our customers who are reducing their carbon footprint through sustainable transportation choices.”

NS Chief Sustainability Officer Josh Raglin, and UP EVP-Sustainability and Strategy and CHRO Beth Whited

CPKC Director, Sustainability David Huck, NS Chief Sustainability Officer Josh Raglin, and UP EVP-Sustainability and Strategy and CHRO Beth Whited have each received a Constellation Research ESG50 award for championing environmental, social and governance strategies.

The Silicon Valley-based technology research and advisory firm said it compiled the list of 50 award-winning executives through a “rigorous” nomination process that included recommendations from peers, industry influencers, technology vendors, analysts and reference checks. “Each executive has demonstrated excellence in developing and implementing innovative business models, leveraging emerging technologies, and leading with integrity and empathy,” Constellation Research reported. “These individuals are driving change in their organizations and beyond, making a positive impact on the world through their commitment to sustainability and responsible leadership.”

The ESG 50 honorees come from diverse industries, including transportation, entertainment, financial services, healthcare, higher education, public sector, retail, sports, and more.

“I’m honored to receive this award, which is a reflection of our ongoing commitment to pursuing innovative sustainability practices at Union Pacific,” Beth Whited said. “It recognizes the railroad’s position as an industry leader, and it inspires us to continue driving positive change for a more sustainable future.”

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