Three states get $635 million piece of BNSF capex pie

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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BNSF anticipates completion of expansion projects started in 2016 at the Alliance Intermodal Facility. Those projects include adding parking capacity as well as acquiring lift equipment. BNSF Photo by Ken Fitzgerald

BNSF has allocated $635 million (19%) of its $3.3 billion 2018 capital investment program to its network in three states—Texas, Illinois and Oklahoma.

Much of the expenditures are for rail, tie and ballast renewal. The remainder will go toward expansion projects designed to enhance capacity and fluidity.

BNSF’s capex program in Texas will be approximately $375 million, more than 10% of its total 2018 program. The railroad’s Texas network has more track-miles than in any other state, with roughly 440 million tons of agricultural, energy, industrial and consumer products moving each year.

During the past five years, BNSF has invested nearly $1.8 billion to expand and maintain its network in Texas. This year, the maintenance program in Texas includes approximately 1,400 miles of track surfacing and/or undercutting work as well as replacement of nearly 40 miles of rail and more than 450,000 ties.

BNSF is also investing in several capacity expansion projects in Texas. On the Hereford Subdivision, crews will complete work this year on expansion to quadruple main line track of more than four miles through Amarillo. On the Wichita Falls Subdivision, which runs between Wichita Falls and Fort Worth, crews will complete installation of Centralized Traffic Control on the entire subdivision, install one new siding and extend another to increase capacity as well as address increased train flows. In the Houston area on the Conroe Subdivision, construction is scheduled to begin on a new connection and siding in Dobbin to help facilitate train flows between Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston.

BNSF also anticipates completion of expansion projects started in 2016 at the Alliance Intermodal Facility. Those projects include adding parking capacity as well as acquiring lift equipment. Additionally, BNSF will begin construction to replace its existing bridge over the Trinity River near downtown Fort Worth.

BNSF’s capex program in Oklahoma will be approximately $110 million. During the past five years, the railroad has invested about $630 million to expand and maintain its network in the state. This year, the maintenance program includes approximately 620 miles of track surfacing and/or undercutting work as well as replacement of nearly 30 miles of rail and more than 230,000 ties. On the Avard Subdivision, which runs between Avard and Tulsa, a new siding will be installed near Hopeton.

“Each year, BNSF hauls approximately 28,000 carloads of wheat, corn, soybeans and other agricultural products from Oklahoma to domestic markets and to the ports for export,” said Janssen Thompson, General Manager of Operations, Red River Division. “We also move the fertilizer that helps those crops grow, in addition to consumer products, construction materials and energy products.”

The capex program in Illinois will be approximately $150 million. During the past five years, BNSF has invested nearly $1.2 billion to expand and maintain its network in Illinois. This year, the maintenance program in Illinois includes more than 650 miles of track surfacing and/or undercutting work as well as the replacement of nearly 30 miles of rail and about 250,000 ties.

“Illinois is a vital link in BNSF’s 32,500-route mile network and a key interchange point with other railroads enabling us to serve customers in Canadian and eastern U.S. markets,” said Jason Jenkins, General Manager of Operations, Chicago Division. “In total, nearly 2.9 million carloads and intermodal units are shipped to or from Illinois every year.”

All these programs are part of BNSF’s $3.3 billion network-wide 2018 capital expenditure program, announced last month. Investments include $2.4 billion to replace and maintain core network and related assets, approximately $500 million on expansion and efficiency projects and $100 million for continued implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC). About $300 million has been allocated for freight cars and other equipment acquisitions.

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