BNSF Railroad Announces $5 Billion Spending Plan

After capturing more than half of the rail industry's volume increase in 2013, BNSF railroad announced last week that they will spend $5 billion on a capital expenditure plan to enhance systems and processes in 2014.

According to BNSF's statement, the $5 billion in expenditures will fund an estimated $2.3 billion to strengthen its "core network and related assets," $1.6 billion to acquire new trains and equipment, $900 million for terminal and intermodal expansion, and approximately $200 million to continue installing positive train control (PTC) systems. PTCs are a key National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) initiative utilizing integrated technology and communications systems to enhance railroad safety.

BNSF expects to continue its growth in 2014 due to increased volumes in the agricultural, automotive, intermodal, and industrial products (including crude oil and coal) industries. Some projects should help alleviate congestion near the booming Bakken oil field in North Dakota and Montana. Last week, the National Association of Railroad Passengers complained to officials that the growth in oil shipments was disrupting Amtrak passenger service.

"BNSF's capital investments are an integral part of making sure our network is well prepared for the demand for freight rail service in the U.S. and helps ensure the continued integrity and reliability of our network," said Carl Ice, president and CEO of BNSF.

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