Tag Archives: BNSF

Amazon to build giant fulfillment center next to BNSF intermodal site

Amazon.com Inc. has plans to build a 800,000-square-foot fulfillment center adjacent to BNSF Railway Co.‘s Logistics Park Kansas City intermodal facility in Edgerton, Kan., the online retailer and state officials announced last week.

The fulfillment center, which is expected to employ 1,000 full-time workers, will pick, pack and ship large retail items to customers, according to a press release issued by Amazon.com.

The project is a joint effort of BNSF, the Kansas Department of Commerce, Kansas Department of Transportation, NorthPoint Development, KCP&L, city of Edgerton and Southwest Johnson County Economic Development Corp.

“The quality of the Kansas workforce and our central location in the heart of the nation contributed to [Amazon’s] decision to locate in Logistics Park Kansas City,” said Gov. Sam Brownback.

North American Railroads: Consolidation in 2014 and Beyond?


Canadian Pacific Railway CEO and Director E. Hunter Harrison told investors last week that he expects rail consolidation among the largest North American railroads within six years, but his ideas are more than just the usual rumors. One of which is that Kansas City Southern Railway, the smallest of the major railroads, will merge with one of the five other Class I carriers or a third-party that merges two railroads. The major benefit to a KCS buyer would be gaining the only cross-border rail network that connects the U.S. to Mexico’s rapidly growing manufacturing base.

What if each of the western U.S.-based Class I railroads — BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad merge with an eastern counterpart. BNSF or UP, for example, could merge with CSX Transportation or Norfolk Southern Railway. Such a merger wouldn’t “impact the competitive environment,” and shippers would gain better service by having two transcontinental lines. Shippers with access to only one line, who refer to themselves as “captive shippers,” could benefit as well.

Under a dual transcontinental merger scenario, the need for handoffs at the Mississippi River or in Chicago would be reduced, speeding up transit times. The mergers also would reduce corporate costs, because two sets of management would be redundant, and some railyards could be consolidated.

Traditionally, Chicago was the Rail Capital of the United States. Will new Chicago Bypasses develop? What about companies like UPS who rely on Chicago traffic? Union Pacific was created by Abraham Lincoln and Congress to “span the Continent”.Will this happen? A transcontinental merger wouldn’t create major cost savings, nor would it greatly improve service, because interline traffic generally runs smoothly.. Railroads’ differing cultures would only complicate a process. I remember when CSX had just taken over the Selkirk Yard near Albany. There was a blizzard and Selkirk shut down. CSX sent a team of executives to solve the problem. They arrived at the Albany County Airport (built in the 1930’s and not shut because they used strange contraptions called snow plows. These characters arrived in raincoats and rubbers and carrying umbrellas.

The most likely consolidation scenario is a merger or acquisition involving KCS, but the railroad’s high valuation likely is keeping suitors at bay. Acquiring or merging with KCS seven or eight years ago before the railroad’s cross-border business began to take off would have made sense.

The greatest potential for rail consolidation isn’t in the Class I industry but within the small lines that connect to the major railroads. Let’s start with Florida East Coast Railway. Not likely. They are gearing up for the Panama Canal expansion plus their parent company is building a Miami to Orlando passenger train. Just announced purchase of 24 new GE locomotives (see picture at top) .

Genesee & Wyoming, an owner and operator of short lines and regional freight railroads, is best poised to swallow up other lines because the company has access to some $400 million in capital and is the largest strategic player, according to a Stephens research note. Of the 459 privately owned U.S. regional and short lines, which make up about 80 percent of the market, G&W’s network connects with 48 of the lines. Like the larger railroads, many of G&W lines, which total 98 in North America, are seeing intermodal traffic growth.

See more about railroad mergers over history.


BNSF transports cargo from largest ship to reach U.S. coasts

The CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin — the largest vessel ever to call at a U.S. port — arrived at the Port of Los Angeles on Dec. 26, where BNSF Railway Co. was waiting to move more than 2,500 containers of the ship’s cargo to inland intermodal facilities.

BNSF will use 10 trains to move the containers to intermodal sites in cities that include Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and Memphis, according to the railroad’s website.

Longer than the Empire State Building, the 18,000-TEU (20-foot equivalent) container ship is 1,300 feet long and 177 feet wide, according to CMA CGM.

BNSF aims to better prep for harsh winter weather

No, picture above is NOT the BNSF. BNSF is waking up about Winter, Snow and Railroads. By so doing, maybe they won’t become another Lackawanna.

Find out about Winter, Snow and Railroads.

BNSF Railway Co. announced to its customers this week that the railroad will enter the 2014-15 winter season “better prepared than ever before,” especially if the Polar Vortex returns, BNSF officials said in a press release.


Given last winter’s extremes, the Class I’s operating divisions evaluated this year’s winter action plan. Each division has completed the following:

• safety briefings with employees to review hypothermia and frostbite prevention, as well as general safety precautions regarding slips, trips and falls, and cold weather gear review;

• inventories of snow removal equipment and supplies, such as emergency generators and salt supplies;

• specialized snow removal equipment testing to ensure the machinery works properly; and

• operational procedure reviews as to when to adjust crew transportation procedures and adjust train size, speed and other operating restrictions.

BNSF also added several new resources to support winter operations, such as larger rapid response teams dedicated to addressing service interruptions that might be caused by a variety of mechanical or operational issues, including winter weather. In addition, the railroad:

• increased mechanical rapid responders by 25 percent, mainly in the form of nine new rapid response teams positioned in the northern part of North Dakota in Williston and New Rockford, as well as in La Crosse, Wis., Savanna and Sterling, Ill., and Fort Scott, Kan.;

• established after-hours track rapid response teams to assist with snow removal across the northern part of the network by keeping more than 300 additional maintenance-of-way employees who traditionally were during winter;

• expanded container and trailer parking capacity by 800 spots at the Willow Springs, Corwith and Cicero intermodal facilities in the Chicago area;

• installed an additional 150 switch heaters at locations that previously did not have protection from cold temperatures;

• installed air dryers on all new locomotives to help reduce moisture that can accumulate in the braking system; and

• acquired additional snow removal equipment, with the most significant acquisitions involving two industrial-size snow blowers that will be dedicated to keeping Chicago hub facilities free of snow and ice.

“While we always prepare the operations for winter, the extreme cold experienced last year provided us some additional insight that we have incorporated into our future preparations and operating procedures,” said Steve Bobb, BNSF’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “While unplanned events can always happen, we will go into this winter season with more resources and more preparation than ever before so that our people stay safe amid the harshest of weather conditions and our customers’ freight gets to its destination as promised.”


Find out about Action Engine and Fairpromise

New Mexico Rail Activity

Have covered  developing rail topics for quite a while, but never made a comment on New Mexico. Actually trying hard to remember if I ever rode a train through New Mexico.

New Mexico Rail Runner Express recorded 7.9 million riders in first eight years

The New Mexico Rail Runner Express celebrated its eighth anniversary by providing giveaways and free snacks to riders.

Agency officials noted that during its first eight years of operations, ridership rose to 7.9 million (as of June 1). Officials anticipate the agency will have transported its 8 millionth rider sometime this month, according to a press release.

Also during its first eight years, the Rail Runner Express accommodated 269,820 bicycle boardings; provided assistance to 38,815 passengers; and operated over 305 million passenger miles.

BNSF begins double-track project in New Mexico


BNSF Railway Co. recently launched work on a $68 million double-track project west of Vaughn, N.M.The Class I plans to build 9.3-mile second main track to eliminate one of only four remaining single-track sections on its Southern Transcon route between Chicago and Los Angeles. Grading work is under way and track construction is scheduled to start in early 2015, with the double track expected to enter service in mid-2015.

The additional capacity will improve velocity and enhance service along the Transcon — one of the railroad’s most important routes, BNSF officials said in a press release.

After the project is completed, only 25 miles of single track will remain on the route, including a 2.3-mile segment in Ft. Sumner, N.M., over the Pecos River, they said.

The project is part of BNSF’s $5 billion capital plan in 2014, of which $2.3 billion is budgeted to improve the railroad’s core network and related assets.