MRL is BNSF Short Line of the Year

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief

BNSF Railway has selected Montana Rail Link, Inc. (MRL) as its 2013 Short Line of the Year “for its significant growth and continued emphasis on a strong safety record.” In addition, Bighorn Divide & Wyoming Railroad (BDW) won the Special Recognition Award. The awards were presented during the annual BNSF Short Line Conference last month in Irving, Tex.

In Montana, Idaho, and Washington, MRL operates a 957-mile rail system. Across the tri-state region, it serves three oil refineries, an electric utility, a large woodchip facility, intermodal and automotive terminals, and producers of agriculture, talc, finished lumber, particleboard, lime, and cement. Described by BNSF as “a critical part of the BNSF route network,” MRL connects with BNSF main lines at Huntley, Mont., and Sandpoint, Idaho. MRL has been handling record volumes of overhead traffic in 2013 through a 2012 agreement that ensures adequate capacity on the MRL route to meet future demand.

“MRL is an important BNSF business partner committed to enhance service to customers by focusing on network and terminal velocity initiatives, responding to changes in traffic volume, and investing in infrastructure while always emphasizing the safety of employees,” said BNSF Vice President of Network Strategy Dean Wise.

“Our vision is to be the ‘Best of the Best’ in safety, customer satisfaction, and ingenuity,” said MRL President Tom Walsh. “On behalf of our nearly 1,100 employees, we are honored to receive this prestigious award from our valued partner, BNSF.”

Earlier this year MRL was named Railway Age’s 2013 Regional Railroad of the Year

BNSF selected BDW for the Special Recognition Award “because of its commitment to growth, customer service, and efficiency.” BDW interchanges with BNSF at Bonneville and Bishop, Wyo., “and has provided great customer service and aggressively invested in capacity for new customers,” BNSF said. BDW has grown at an annual growth rate of 14% over the past 10 years, nearly quadrupling its volume since 2003.

BNSF created the awards to honor short lines “that exceed the railway’s expectations for innovation, determination, vision, and entrepreneurial spirit. A video is available on MRL’s award from BNSF. Additionally, Railway Age selected MRL as its 2013 Regional Railroad of the Year.

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