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Encyclopedia > BNSF

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway
Reporting marks BNSF
Locale United States Pacific coast to Chicago, IL and cities along the Mississippi River
Years of operation 1995 – present
Track gauge 4' 8.5"
Headquarters Fort Worth, Texas

The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company (AAR reporting mark BNSF) (NYSE: BNI (http://www.nyse.com/about/listed/lcddata.html?ticker=BNI)), headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, and established as a result of a 1995 merger between the parent companies of the Burlington Northern Railroad and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, is one of the largest railroad networks in North America (only the Union Pacific Railroad is comparable in size). The railroads were formally combined in December 1996 and the BNSF is a wholly owned subsidiary of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation.

According to BNSF press releases, the BNSF Railway is among the top transporters of United States.


BNSF Trackage

The BNSF Railway directly owns and operates track in 27 U.S. states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. In addition, the railway also operates a small amount of track in British Columbia, Canada, including an approximate 30-mile (48 kilometer) section that runs from the U.S.-Canada border to Vancouver. For administrative purposes, the BNSF railway is divided into thirteen different divisions: Chicago, Gulf, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Northern California, Northwest, Powder River, Southern California, Southwest, Springfield, Texas, and Twin Cities. Each division is further divided into hundreds of different subdivisions, which represent segments of track ranging from 300-mile mainlines to 10-mile branch-lines.

Not including second, third and fourth main line trackage, yard trackage, and siding trackage, the BNSF Railway directly operates some 24,500 miles (39,429 kilometers) of track. When these additional tracks are counted, however, the amount of track that the BNSF Railway has direct control over rises to over 50,000 miles (80,467 kilometers).

Additionally, the BNSF Railway has been able to gain trackage rights on over 8,000 miles (12,875 kilometers) of track throughout the United States and Canada. These rights allow the BNSF to operate its own trains with its own crews on competing railroads' main tracks.

BNSF locomotives also occasionally show up on competitors' tracks throughout the United States and Canada by way of lease and other contractual arrangements.

BNSF Paint Schemes

The assortment of colors used on the BNSF makes it one of the most colorful large railroads in North America. BNSF paints its locomotives in schemes derived from its predecessor railroads. Many locomotives, sometimes affectionately called "pumpkins," are painted in "Heritage I" or "Heritage II" schemes, which are based on the Great Northern Railroad's colors of black and orange. Other locomotives are painted in the "Heritage III" scheme, which is the Santa Fe's famous silver_and_red "warbonnet" scheme, only with "BNSF" painted on the sides instead of "Santa Fe". Even more locomotives continue to be wear the green and white or blue and yellow colors of the two railroads that merged to create the BNSF.

BNSF Railway logo adopted January 24, 2005.

On January 24, 2005, the railroad introduced a new logo to replace the circle and cross logo of Santa Fe heritage. The new logo symbolizes the railroad's goals to be "a leader in in transportation service and innovation." [1] (http://www.bnsf.com/news/articles/2005/01/2005-01-24a.html?index=/news/index.html) This logo also marks a move away from the more verbose Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway moniker displayed in the old logo.

BNSF Yards and Facilities

BNSF operates various facilities all over the United States to support its transportation system. Some of the various facilities operated by the railway include yards and terminals throughout its rail network, system locomotive shops to perform locomotive service and maintenance, a centralized operations center for train dispatching and network operations monitoring in Fort Worth, Texas, regional dispatching centers, computers, telecommunications equipment, and signal systems.

The BNSF Railway also operates numerous transfer facilities throughout the western United States in order to facilitate the transfer of intermodal containers, trailers, and other freight traffic. The BNSF Railway has direct control over a total of 36 intermodal hubs and 25 automotive distribution facilities.

Large freight car hump yards are also scattered throughout the BNSF system. In 2003, the Argentine Yard in Kansas City, Kansas processed the largest number of freight cars.

The BNSF mechanical division is responsible for operating 8 locomotive maintenance facilities involved with preventive maintenance, repairs and servicing of equipment. The largest of these facilities are located in Lincoln, Nebraska and Topeka, Kansas. Furthermore, the mechanical division also controls 46 additional facilities that are responsible for car maintenance and daily running repairs.

Meanwhile, the BNSF system mechanical division, a subset of the mechanical division, also operates two maintenance_of_way work equipment shops, responsible for performing repairs and preventative maintenance to BNSF's track and equipment, in Brainerd, Minnesota and Galesburg, Illinois. The system mechanical division is also responsible for the operation of the Western Fruit Express Company's refrigerated car repair shop in Spokane, Washington.

BNSF's Northern Route

Northern route overview

One of the routes operated by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe traverses the most northerly route of any railroad in the western United States. This route was originally part of the Northern Pacific Railway system, followed by the Burlington Northern Railroad system. The route starts at Chicago, Illinois and runs west-northwest to La Crosse, Wisconsin. From here the route continues northwest through Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota to Grand Forks, North Dakota. From Grand Forks the route runs west through North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho to Spokane, Washington. At Spokane the route splits into two routes, one going to Seattle, Washington and the other to Portland, Oregon. This route required construction of the Flathead Tunnel through the Rocky Mountains in Montana and the new Cascade Tunnel through the Cascade Mountains in Washington.

Traveling east from Seattle, Washington to the western portal of the Cascade Tunnel

Traveling east from the King Street Station in Seattle, Washington, the main line of the BNSF heads north through a tunnel under downtown Seattle. After exiting the tunnel the main line continues north through the Interbay classification yard and maintenance facilities and across the Lake Washington Ship Canal on the Salmon Bay Bridge. The main line continues north along the shore of Puget Sound through the cities of Edmonds, Washington and Mukilteo, Washington past Rucker hill in Everett, Washington to the old Everett station. From there the main line makes a 180 degree turn through a partially covered cut through downtown Everett to the new Everett station. From the new station, the main line heads south, then southeast along the Snohomish river through the cities of Snohomish, Washington and Monroe, Washington. From Monroe the main line follows the Skykomish river through the towns of Index, Washington and Skykomish, Washington to the western portal of the Cascade Tunnel.

King Street Station, Seattle
Salmon Bay Bridge, Seattle
Main line heading north out of Seattle, Washington along the shore of Puget Sound
Everett Station (old)
Covered cut under downtown Everett (eastern portal)
Everett Station (new)

BNSF's Commitment to Railway Crossing Safety

As one of the leading supporters of the Operation Lifesaver program to promote safety at railway crossings and right-of-ways, the BNSF Railway, in 2000, established a grade_crossing closure program. This program, wherein BNSF works with communities and landowners to identify crossings that are unnecessary or redundant, has helped close over 2,000 of BNSF's railway crossings throughout the United States. Largely thanks to this program, BNSF has been the industry leader in lowering the amount of grade_crossing collisions.

BNSF Facts and Figures

According to the BNSF's 2003 Annual Report to Investors, at the end of 2003, the BNSF Railway had more than 36,000 employees, 5,377 locomotives, and 87,549 freight cars.

  • In addition, the railway also owned:
    • 10,627 domestic containers
    • 9,864 domestic chassis
    • 4,028 company service vehicles
    • 2,152 trailers
    • 163 commuter passenger cars

The average age from date of manufacture for the BNSF's locomotive fleet was 15 years at the end of 2003, while the average age from date of manufacture for the freight car fleet at the end of 2003 was 16 years.

In 2003, BNSF hauled 4 million intermodal containers and trailers, 236 million tons of coal, 47 million tons of grain, and 30 million tons of building products, in addition to thousands of various other products used by people throughout the United States every day.

See also

External links

  • BNSF (http://www.bnsf.com/)
  • BNSF Division Maps (http://www.bnsf.com/about_bnsf/html/division_maps.html)
  • BNSF History (http://www.bnsf.com/about_bnsf/html/history.html)
  • BNSF Company Profile (http://www.bnsf.com/media/html/company_profile.html)
  • Interesting BNSF Facts (http://www.bnsf.com/media/html/bnsf_facts.html)
  • Hoover's Company Profile (http://www.hoovers.com/free/co/factsheet.xhtml?ID=10250)


  • BNSF Railway (January 24, 2005), BNSF Adopts New Corporate and Subsidiary Logos and Changes Name of Railway Subsidiary as Part of Tenth Anniversary Celebration (http://www.bnsf.com/news/articles/2005/01/2005_01_24a.html?index=/news/index.html). Retrieved January 25, 2005.

Current (operating) Class I railroads of North America


Former or fallen flag Class I railroads of North America


  Results from FactBites:
BNSF Railway - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (2456 words)
The BNSF Railway is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation, the holding company formed by the September 22, 1995 merger of Burlington Northern, Incorporated and the Santa Fe Pacific Corporation.
On February 9, 2005, BNSF announced that it plans to build a new intermodal transfer facility near the port of Los Angeles; the new facility, with direct rail access to the recently constructed Alameda Corridor, would supplement the container transloading abilities of the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility (ICTF) built by Southern Pacific in the 1990s.
One engine, BNSF 9647 was painted in a hybrid scheme, with the shapes used in Santa Fe's "Warbonnet" scheme in Burlington Northern's colors.
MT DEQ AWM Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) Facility Fact Sheet (1111 words)
The BNSF Paradise site is located on the northern bank of the Clark Fork River, approximately 2.7 miles downstream of the confluence with the Flathead River, approximately 0.75 miles northwest of the town of Paradise, Montana.
In the next phase, BNSF will develop a Corrective Measures Implementation Plan, which must be submitted to the DEQ in the winter of 2002, with work planned to begin in the spring of 2002.
BNSF must also continue to address corrective measures for the contaminated groundwater and creosote product pooled at the bottom of the aquifer.
  More results at FactBites »



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