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The BNSF Railway , formerly known as the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway, is an American freight railroad company headquartered in Fort Worth, Texasmarker; it is one of four remaining transcontinental railroads, and one of the largest freight railroad networks, in North America. Only the Union Pacific Railroad, its primary competitor for Western U.S. freight, is larger in size. The BNSF Railway moves more intermodal freight traffic than any other rail system in the world.

It was formed December 31, 1996, as the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway was merged into the Burlington Northern Railroad. In 1999 BNSF and the Canadian National Railway announced their intention to merge and form a new corporation entitled the North American Railways to be headquartered in Montreal, Canadamarker. The United States' Surface Transportation Board (STB) placed a 15-month moratorium on all rail mergers, which ended this merger. On January 24, 2005, the railroad's name was officially changed to BNSF Railway.

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. According to corporate press releases, the BNSF Railway is among the top transporters of intermodal freight in North America. It moves more grain than any other American railroad. It also hauls enough coal to generate roughly 10% of the electricity produced in the United Statesmarker. The company's northern route completes the high-speed link from the western to eastern United States.

On November 3, 2009, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway announced that it would acquire 77.4% of BNSF for $100 per stock in cash and stock, in a deal valued at $44 billion. The company is investing an estimated $34 billion in BNSF and acquiring $10 billion in debt.


Markets and services

With BNSF's large system, it hauls many different commodities, most notably coal and grain, as well as intermodal freight.

Predecessor Burlington Northern Railroad (BN) entered Wyomingmarker's low-sulfur coal-rich Powder River Basinmarker in the 1970s through construction of the Powder River Basin Joint Line with Union Pacific Railroad predecessor Chicago and North Western Transportation Company. Coal goes north in unit trains on the three-to-four-track Joint Line to Gillettemarker or south to Orinmarker, where older BN lines and other railroads take it in all directions to coal-burning power plants.

BNSF serves over 1500 grain elevators, located mostly in the Midwest on former BN lines. Depending on where the markets are, this grain may move in any direction in unit trains, or wait in silos for demand to rise. Most commonly, grain may move west on the Northern Transcon to the Pacific Northwest and its export terminals, or south to Texasmarker and Gulf of Mexicomarker ports.

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway's main contribution to BNSF was the Southern Transcon, a fast intermodal corridor connecting Southern California and Chicagomarker. Most traffic is either trailer of trucking companies such as intermodal partner J. B. Hunt, or container from the Ports of Long Beachmarker and Los Angelesmarker. The latter begins its trip on the three-track Alameda Corridor, shared with the Union Pacific Railroad, and then follows BNSF rails from downtown Los Angelesmarker. Its route, the Southern Transcon, has been almost completely double-tracked, and triple-tracking has begun in areas such as Cajon Passmarker.



The BNSF Railway directly owns and operates track in 27 U.S. states: Alabamamarker, Arizonamarker, Arkansasmarker, Californiamarker, Coloradomarker, Idahomarker, Illinoismarker, Iowamarker, Kansasmarker, Louisianamarker, Minnesotamarker, Mississippimarker, Missourimarker, Montanamarker, Nebraskamarker, Nevadamarker, New Mexicomarker, North Dakotamarker, Oklahomamarker, Oregonmarker, South Dakotamarker, Tennesseemarker, Texasmarker, Utahmarker, Washingtonmarker, Wisconsinmarker, and Wyomingmarker. The railway also operates a small amount of track in Canadamarker, including an approximate 30-mile (48 kilometer) section that runs from the U.S.-Canada border to Vancouver, British Columbiamarker, a yard in Winnipeg, Manitobamarker, and approximately 70 miles of joint track with the Canadian National Railway, which runs south to the U.S. border.

For administrative purposes, BNSF is divided into fourteen operating divisions: California, Chicago, Colorado, Gulf, Kansas, Los Angeles, Montana, Nebraska, Northwest, Powder River, Southwest, Springfield, Texas, and Twin Cities. Each division is further divided into hundreds of 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, BNSF directly owns and operates over 24,000 miles (38,624 kilometers) of track. When these additional tracks are counted, the length of track which the railway directly controls rises to more than 50,000 miles (80,467 kilometers).

Additionally, BNSF Railway has gained trackage rights on more than 8,000 miles (12,875 kilometers) of track throughout the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker. 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.

Yards and facilities

BNSF operates various facilities all over the United States to support its transportation system. 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 Worthmarker, and regional dispatching centers.

The BNSF Railway also operates numerous transfer facilities throughout the western United States to facilitate the transfer of intermodal containers, trailers, and other freight traffic. The BNSF Railway has direct control over a total of 33 intermodal hubs and 23 automotive distribution facilities. On February 9, 2005, BNSF announced that it plans to build a new intermodal transfer facility near the port of Los Angelesmarker called the Southern California International Gateway. 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.

Large freight car hump yards are also scattered throughout the BNSF system. In 2005, Argentine Yard in Kansas Citymarker, Kansasmarker processed the most freight cars. Further on, there is a list of currently operating BNSF Hump Yards.

The BNSF mechanical division operates eight locomotive maintenance facilities that perform preventive maintenance, repairs and servicing of equipment. The largest of these facilities are located in Alliancemarker, Nebraskamarker and Topekamarker, Kansasmarker. The mechanical division also controls 46 additional facilities responsible for car maintenance and daily running repairs.

The BNSF system mechanical division, a subset of the mechanical division, operates two maintenance-of-way work equipment shops, responsible for performing repairs and preventive maintenance to BNSF's track and equipment, in Brainerdmarker, Minnesotamarker and Galesburgmarker, Illinoismarker. The system mechanical division also operates the Western Fruit Express Company's refrigerated car repair shop in Spokanemarker, Washingtonmarker.

In 2006, BNSF teamed with Vancouver, WA-based Tri Star to run BNSF's new transload facility in Fontana, CA, near the California Speedway.

BNSF operates hump yards in several cities:


  • The Northern Transcon runs from Seattlemarker, Washingtonmarker to Chicago, Illinoismarker. It is the most northerly route of any railroad in the continental United States. This was the route of the Great Northern Railway's Silk Extras in the 1920s. They had priority over all other trains, stopping only for refueling and crew changes. These trains transported silk to the east from ships arriving in the Port of Seattlemarker from Japanmarker.
  • The Southern Transcon runs from Los Angeles, Californiamarker to Chicago, Illinoismarker. The 2006 BNSF Annual Report states: "We also added about 33 miles of second main track on our main line between Chicago and Los Angeles. All but 51 miles of this high-volume 2,200-mile route were double track, as of the end of 2006. Last year, we ran 100 trains per day on this expanded main line, compared with 60 per day in 2000." Technically, it is not double tracked in mid Kansas where two routes are used: Mulvane to Wichita to Newton to Emporia for primarily eastbound traffic; Emporia to El Dorado to Augusta to Mulvane for primarily westbound traffic. In 2008, BNSF completed nearly 16 miles of a third main track through Cajon Pass in Southern California, increasing capacity on our transcontinental main route between Chicago and Los Angeles from 100 to 150 trains per day. BNSF started adding a second main track in Abo Canyon (east of Belen, New Mexico) the largest bottleneck on the Transcon with grading in 2008-2009, bridges in 2010 and signal work in late 2010 or early 2011. Approximately 1.7 million cubic yards of rock need to be excavated, mostly by blasting. The 2008 BNSF Annual Report states: "Following completion of the Abo Canyon project scheduled in 2011, our 2,200‑mile Transcontinental Corridor between Southern California and Chicago will have only about 30 miles of single track."
  • The Powder River Basinmarker supplies 40% of the coal in the United States. The 2008 BNSF Annual Report states that the quadruple track project was completed.

Operating divisions

The BNSF system is divided into thirteen divisions, which are grouped into three regions. Each division includes numerous subdivisions, normally comprising a single main line and branches. A fourteenth division, Colorado, has been consolidated with the Powder River Division, except for the Casper and Cody Subdivisions, which were transferred to the Montana Division.
Region Division States and provinces Headquarters Subdivisions Notes
South California Californiamarker, Nevadamarker, Utahmarker San Bernardino, CAmarker Bakersfield, Cajon, Lucerne Valley, Mojave, Needles, San Bernardino, San Diego, Stockton
South Chicago Illinoismarker, Iowamarker, Minnesotamarker, Missourimarker, Wisconsinmarker Chicago, ILmarker Aurora, Barstow, Brookfield, Chicago, Chillicothe, Marceline, Mendota, Ottumwa, Peoria, St. Croix, Thomas Hill
Central Gulf Arkansasmarker, Louisianamarker, Texasmarker Spring, TXmarker Bay City, Conroe, Galveston, Houston, Lafayette, Lampasas, Longview, Mykawa, Silsbee
South Kansas Coloradomarker, Kansasmarker, Missourimarker, Nebraskamarker, New Mexicomarker, Oklahomamarker, Texasmarker Kansas City, KSmarker Arkansas City, Douglass, Emporia, Hereford, La Junta, Panhandle, Plainview, Slaton, Strong City, Topeka
South Los Angeles Californiamarker Los Angeles, CAmarker Alameda Corridor, Harbor, San Bernardino
North Montana Montanamarker, North Dakotamarker, Wyomingmarker Billings, MTmarker Big Sandy, Broadview, Casper, Choteau, Circle, Cody, Colstrip, Crosby, Dickinson, Fairfield, Forsyth, Ft. Benton, Glasgow, Great Falls, Grenora, Helena, Hettinger, Hi Line, Kootenai River, Laurel, Lewistown, Milk River, Niobe, Sarpy Line, Sweet Grass, Valier
Central Nebraska Illinoismarker, Iowamarker, Kansasmarker, Missourimarker, Nebraskamarker Lincoln, NEmarker Bayard, Beatrice, Bellwood, Council Bluffs, Creston, Des Moines, Giltner, Hastings, Lester, Napier, Neb City, Omaha, Ottumwa, Ravenna, Sioux City, St. Joseph, Wymore
North Northwest British Columbiamarker, Californiamarker, Idahomarker, Montanamarker, Oregonmarker, Washingtonmarker Seattle, WAmarker Bellingham, Burbank, Cherry Point, Coeur d'Alene, Columbia River, Fallbridge, Gateway, Kettle Falls, Lakeside, Newport, New Westminster, Oregon Trunk, Scenic, Seattle, Spokane, Stampede, Sumas, Woodinville, Yakima Valley
Central Powder River Coloradomarker, Nebraskamarker, New Mexicomarker, Oklahomamarker, South Dakotamarker, Texasmarker, Utahmarker, Wyomingmarker Gillette, WYmarker Akron, Angora, Big Horn, Black Hills, Boise City, Brush, Butte, Campbell, Canyon, Dalhart, Dutch, Front Range, Golden, Orin, Pikes Peak, Pueblo, Reno, Sand Hills, Spanish Peaks, Twin Peaks, Valley
South Southwest Arizonamarker, Californiamarker, Coloradomarker, New Mexicomarker, Texasmarker Belen, NMmarker Clovis, Coronado, Defiance, El Paso, Ennis, Gallup, Glorieta, Lee Ranch, Phoenix, Raton, Seligman, Springerville
Central Springfield Alabamamarker, Arkansasmarker, Illinoismarker, Iowamarker, Kansasmarker, Kentuckymarker, Mississippimarker, Missourimarker, Oklahomamarker, Tennesseemarker Springfield, MOmarker Afton, Amory, Avard, Beardstown, Birmingham, Cherokee, Cuba, Fort Scott, Hannibal, Lead Line, River, Thayer North, Thayer South, Yates City Includes most of the former St. Louis-San Francisco Railway
Central Texas Kansasmarker, Oklahomamarker, Texasmarker Alliance, TX BBRX, Chickasha, Creek, DFW, Ft. Worth, Madill, Red River Valley, Red Rock, Sooner, Venus, Wichita Falls
North Twin Cities Iowamarker, Manitobamarker, Minnesotamarker, Nebraskamarker, North Dakotamarker, South Dakotamarker, Wisconsinmarker Minneapolis, MNmarker Aberdeen, Allouez, Appleton, Brainerd, Browns Valley, Canton, Casco, Clifford Line, Corson, Devils Lake, Drayton, Glasston, Grand Forks, Hanley Falls, Hannah, Hib Tac, Hillsboro, Hinckley, Hunter, Jamestown, KO, Lakes, Madison, Marshall, Mayville, Midway, Mitchell, Mobridge, Monticello, Moorhead, Morris, Noyes, P Line, Prosper, Rolla, Staples, St. Paul, Warwick, Watertown, Wayzata, Westhope, Zap Line

Passenger trains

Many Amtrak routes use BNSF rails: the Chicago-West Coast California Zephyr, Empire Builder, and Southwest Chief; portions of the long-distance Cascades, Coast Starlight, Sunset Limited, and Texas Eagle; and the shorter-distance Carl Sandburg, Heartland Flyer, Illinois Zephyr, Pacific Surfliner, and San Joaquin. BNSF also operates commuter trains in Chicagoland, funded by Metra, on what is known as the BNSF Railway Line to Auroramarker. Other commuter rail systems are operated by local authorities on trackage either owned by BNSF or operated under an exclusive freight easement: Coaster , Metrolink , New Mexico Rail Runner Express, Northstar Commuter Rail, and Sounder .


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 2,900 of BNSF's railway crossings throughout the United States. Due to the program, BNSF has been the industry leader in lowering the number of grade-crossing collisions.

On June 7, 2006, BNSF became the first Class I railroad to recruit railfans to help ensure the company's rail network remains safe. Called the Citizens United for Rail Security (CRS), BNSF designed a program that encourages railfans to register on an official company website. They can print out a small identification card, containing a list of general safety guidelines for a railfan to follow, as well as a toll-free telephone number to alert a BNSF representative of suspicious activities or potential security breaches.

BNSF has had a similar program for employees since 2003. The BNSF ON GUARD program has been highly successful, with over 200 employees reporting suspicious activities since its inception.

BNSF also contracts with News Link, a small business in Lincolnmarker, Nebraskamarker, to publish employee newsletters focused on safety for each of the railroad's 14 operating divisions and nearly all of its system shops. These newsletters vary in length from 4 to 28 pages, published ranging from monthly to quarterly.


According to BNSF's 2007 Annual Report to Investors, at the end of 2007, the railway had more than 40,000 employees; 6,400 locomotives; and 85,338 freight cars.

  • In addition, the railway also owned:
    • 3,253 domestic containers,
    • 11,714 domestic chassis,
    • 4,070 company service vehicles,
    • 1,200 trailers, and
    • 163 commuter passenger car.

At the end of 2007, the average age (from date of manufacture) was 15 years for the BNSF's locomotive fleet and 14 years for the freight car fleet.

On any given day, BNSF is the single largest consumer of petroleum-based fuels in the world. The only larger consumer is the US Navy during a full-force wartime deployment.

On January 24, 2006, BNSF announced a $2.4 billion program of infrastructure upgrades for 2006. The upgrade program includes: double- and triple-tracking of track and a second mainline track through New Mexicomarker's Abo Canyon on the former Santa Fe Railroad transcontinental line; expanding the Lincolnmarker, Nebraskamarker, classification yard and double- and triple-tracking of track in Wyomingmarker's Powder River Basinmarker region; expansions at eight of the railroad's larger intermodal facilities, and extending many sidings and expanding and improving refueling facilities. In making the announcement, BNSF chairman Matthew K. Rose cited improvements in the company's return on invested capital, and expressed hope for continued improvement. In March, 2008, the railroad was completing the triple-tracking of Cajon Pass in California, creating four tracks through the pass—three BNSF (former Santa Fe and newly installed) and one Union Pacific (former Southern Pacific).


The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF) built one of the first transcontinental railroads in North America, linking Chicagomarker and Southern California; major branches led to Texasmarker, Denvermarker, and San Franciscomarker. The Interstate Commerce Commission denied a proposed merger with the Southern Pacific Transportation Company in the 1980s. The Burlington Northern Railroad (BN) was created in 1970 through the consolidation of two northern U.S. transcontinentals - the Great Northern Railway and Northern Pacific Railway - with joint subsidiary Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, and added the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (Frisco) in 1980. Its main lines included Chicago-Seattlemarker with branches to Texas (ex-Burlington) and Montgomery, Alabamamarker (ex-Frisco), and access to the low-sulfur coal of Wyomingmarker's Powder River Basinmarker.

On June 30, 1994, BN and ATSF announced plans to merge; they were the largest and smallest (by mileage) of the "Super Seven", the seven largest of the then-twelve U.S. Class I railroads. The long-rumored announcement was delayed by a disagreement over the disposition of Santa Fe Pacific Gold Corporation, a gold mining subsidiary that ATSF agreed to sell to stockholders. This announcement began the next wave of mergers, as the "Super Seven" were merged down to four in the next five years. The Illinois Central Railroad and Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS), two of the five "small" Class Is, announced on July 19 that the former would buy the latter, but this plan was called off on October 25. The Union Pacific Railroad (UP), another major West system, started a bidding war with BN for control of the SF on October 5. The UP gave up on January 31, 1995, paving the way for the BN-ATSF merger. Subsequently, the UP acquired the Southern Pacific Transportation Company (SP) in 1996, and Eastmarker systems CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway split the Consolidated Rail Corporation (Conrail) in 1998-1999.

On February 7, 1995, BN and ATSF heads Gerald Grinstein and Robert D. Krebs both announced that shareholders had approved the plan, which would save overhead costs and combine BN's coal and ATSF's intermodal strengths. Although the two systems complemented each other with little overlap, in contrast to the Santa Fe-Southern Pacific merger, which failed because it would have eliminated competition in many areas of the Southwest, BN and ATSF came to agreements with most other Class Is to keep them from opposing the merger. UP was satisfied with a single segment of trackage rights from Abilene, Kansasmarker to Superior, Nebraskamarker, which BN and ATSF had both served. KCS gained haulage rights to several Midwest locations including Omahamarker, East St. Louismarker, and Memphismarker, in exchange for BNSF getting similar access to New Orleansmarker. SP, initially requesting far-reaching trackage rights throughout the West, soon agreed on a reduced plan, whereby SP acquired trackage rights on ATSF for intermodal and automotive traffic to Chicago, and other trackage rights on ATSF in Kansasmarker, south to Texas, and between Coloradomarker and Texas. In exchange, SP assigned BNSF trackage rights over the ex-Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad between El Pasomarker and Topekamarker and haulage rights to the Mexican border at Eagle Pass, Texasmarker. Regional Toledo, Peoria and Western Railway also obtained trackage rights over BN from Peoriamarker to Galesburg, Illinoismarker, a BN hub where it could interchange with SP (which had rights on BN dating from 1990). The Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) approved the BNSF merger on July 20, 1995 (with final approval on August 23), less than a month before UP announced on August 3 that it would acquire SP. Parents Burlington Northern Inc. and Santa Fe Pacific Corporation were acquired on September 22, 1995 by the new Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation. The merger of the operating companies was held up by issues with union; ATSF merged on December 31, 1996 into BN, which was renamed Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. Thus the present BNSF Railway Company (name adopted January 24, 2005) dates back to the January 13, 1961 incorporation in Delaware of BN as "Great Northern Pacific & Burlington Lines, Inc."

The UP-SP merger further enlarged the combined BNSF network. Unlike BN and ATSF, UP and SP had significant overlap, where competition between the two would become a monopoly. UP and BNSF announced in late September 1995 that, in exchange for BNSF not opposing the merger, it would obtain ownership of of line and about of trackage rights to reach these "two-to-one" shippers. Significant additions included rights over SP's Central Corridor from Denvermarker via the Moffat Tunnel and Salt Lake Citymarker, and over Donner Passmarker, to the San Francisco Bay Areamarker, with an alternate route through the Feather River Canyon along UP. The ATSF trackage in California's Central Valleymarker was linked to BN's line into Oregonmarker, through trackage rights over UP between Stocktonmarker and Keddiemarker and acquisition of UP's section of the "Inside Gateway" to the beginning of BN trackage at Biebermarker. In Texas, BNSF got rights in several directions from the Houstonmarker area: west over UP to San Antoniomarker, with a branch to Wacomarker, and continuing over SP to Eagle Passmarker (replacing the haulage rights they had just obtained); south over UP to Brownsvillemarker; east over SP to New Orleansmarker (including the purchase of this line east of Lake Charlesmarker); and northeast over SP to Memphismarker with a branch on UP to Little Rockmarker. Ownership of a short connection between Waxahachiemarker and Dallasmarker also went from UP to BNSF. UP, in return, got a few short sections of trackage rights over BNSF, mainly connecting the SP at Chemultmarker to the UP at Bend, Oregonmarker, and connecting the SP at Mojavemarker with existing UP rights on ATSF at Barstow, Californiamarker. On April 18, 1996, UP, BNSF, and the Chemical Manufacturers Association entered into an agreement giving BNSF rights over the UP line between Houston and East St. Louismarker, paralleling the Houston-Memphis SP line, and allowing BNSF to participate in the UP's plan for directional running, in which each line would serve through trains in only one direction. The Surface Transportation Board, successor to the ICC, approved the UP-SP merger on July 3, and UP control of SP took effect on September 11, 1996. BNSF trackage rights operations began on the Central Corridor on October 10, and soon thereafter on other lines.

BNSF continued projects started by its predecessors, most notably BN's work on reopening Stampede Passmarker. BN had closed Stampede Pass, the Northern Pacific Railway's main line across Washingtonmarker, in 1983, in favor of the ex-Great Northern Railway's Stevens Passmarker. But BN never fully abandoned the line, and began rehabilitating it in early 1996, and the route reopened in early December, relieving newly-crowded Stevens Pass. The ex-ATSF main line, now known as the Southern Transcon, has also seen steady work to add tracks, giving BNSF more capacity on this major intermodal route.

On December 20, 1999, BNSF and the recently-privatized Canadian National Railway announced plans ( STB Finance Docket No. 33842) to combine as subsidiaries of a new holding company, North American Railways, which would control about of railroad. With CN's lines located primarily in Canadamarker and, through subsidiary Illinois Central Railroad, on a north-south corridor near BNSF's eastern edge, the two systems had little overlap. The combination would benefit both companies by expanding available cash for capacity improvements, and allowing for longer single-system movements. Shippers and the Surface Transportation Board expressed concern and surprise about the timing, since the merger that produced BNSF had been the only one in the 1990s that did not cause severe deterioration in service. The STB imposed on March 17, 2000 a 15-month moratorium ( STB Ex Parte No. 582) on mergers involving any two Class I railroads, citing widespread opposition not only to the merger but its effects, likely starting the final round of mergers into two big systems. BNSF and CN immediately turned to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which on July 14 ruled that the STB's right to regulate mergers allowed a moratorium, and the two railroads called off the merger. The STB released its final rules ( STB Ex Parte No. 582 (Sub-No. 1)) on June 11, 2001, requiring any new application to merge two Class I railroads, with the exception of smaller Kansas City Southern Railway, to demonstrate that competition would be preserved and address effects of defensive moves by other carriers. Since then, no Class I mergers have taken place.

On November 3, 2009, Warren Buffet said Berkshire Hathaway will buy BNSF for $44 billion. The acquisition has been approved by the boards of both companies and is subject to shareholder approval.

Public image

The assortment of colors used on the BNSF makes it one of the most colorful large railroads in North America. Many locomotives are painted in "Heritage" schemes, which are primarily based on the Great Northern Railway's colors of orange and dark green. Other designs include the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway's silver-and-red "Warbonnet", and a modified version of the "Heritage II" scheme with BNSF's new logo (adopted in 2005) and black rather than dark green. Some older units continue to bear the dark green and cream of predecessor Burlington Northern Railroad or the Santa Fe's blue and yellow.File:BNSF 726 GE C44-9W.jpg|"Warbonnet"File:BNSF 2958 EMD GP39-2 Stockton.jpg|"Heritage I"File:BNSF C44-9W 5518.jpg|"Heritage II"File:BNSF 5824 GE ES44DC.jpg|New scheme (2005)File:BNSF 9819 EMD SD70MAC.jpg|Old BN scheme with "BNSF" on the sideFile:BNSF 6371 EMD SD40-2.jpg|Old SF scheme

The first locomotive to bear BNSF lettering was BN SD70MAC No. 9647, introduced in late August 1995, just as the Interstate Commerce Commission was approving the merger. VMV Paducahbilt in Paducah, Kentuckymarker painted it in a one-of-a-kind "commemorative" scheme, combining ATSF's "Warbonnet" with BN's "executive" colors of dark "Grinstein green" and cream (instead of SF's red and silver). "BNSF" replaced "SANTA FE" on the front of the unit, and "Burlington Northern Santa Fe" was painted on the side.

BNSF logo adopted in 1996
By January 1995, BNSF had begun painting locomotives in the old BN and ATSF schemes but with "BNSF" on the side. Then, in late May, the company introduced a new design on BN SD60M No. 9297 (now 8197), painted mainly in BN predecessor Great Northern Railway's pre-1967 colors of orange and dark "Pullman green", but also incorporating red and silver, and said to represent all three major BN predecessors and the ATSF. On the front was a new logo, placing "Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway" in the old ATSF cross. Some of the striping details were different on each side, and employees voted for the simpler right-side design, which, with some minor changes, became the new scheme, replacing the old BN colors. However, president and CEO Robert Krebs said the railroad was big enough for two designs, and the ATSF "Warbonnet" (with "BNSF" instead of "Santa Fe" on the front) remained alongside the new "Heritage I" scheme. A third "Heritage II" scheme appeared by September 1998, with "Warbonnet"-style yellow trim and BNSF nosepiece replacing the new logo. As for test locomotive No. 9297 (now 8197), when a passing crew saw its prominent orange, it was jokingly dubbed the "Great Pumpkin", a name that has stuck among railfans for that particular unit.

On January 24, 2005, as part of its tenth anniversary celebration, the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway was renamed BNSF Railway, which adopted a new logo. By March, the logo had been applied to the sides and fronts of six ES44DCs, which were otherwise painted in the "Heritage II" scheme, except with black replacing dark green. Slight differences were present on the six locomotives, and on April 11 BNSF officially chose the design it had applied to No. 7701. The most notable difference was on No. 7695, which features the logo in yellow rather than black. Other unique locomotives include Dash 9-44CW No. 4723, with stickers announcing its presence in Microsoft Train Simulator.

See also


  1. Press Release (November 3, 2009), Press Release of BNSF - Berkshire Hathaway Transaction.
  2. BNSF Agricultural Facilities: On-line Grain Elevator Directory, accessed May 2009
  3. Fred W. Frailey, The Empire of BNSF, Trains , June 2001, pp. 30-41
  4. About BNSF - Division Maps, January 1, 2005, accessed May 2009
  5. BNSF Railway Company System Map, January 1, 2005, accessed May 2009
  6. BNSF employee timetables, 2006-2008
  7. BNSF Railway (June 7, 2006), BNSF Railway Asks Rail Fans for Cooperation to Keep America's Rail System Safe. Retrieved June 29, 2006.
  8. BNSF Railway (January 24, 2006), BNSF Announces $2.4 Billion Capital Commitment Program for 2006; About $400 Million Again Slated for Track/Facilities Expansion. Retrieved January 30, 2006.
  9. Railroad News, Trains, September 1994, pp. 14-16
  10. Michael W. Blaszak, Illinois Central, KCS seek a potent union, Trains, October 1994, pp. 14-16
  11. Don Phillips, UP vies for Santa Fe; IC+KCS called off, Trains, January 1995, pp. 20-24
  12. Arrivals & Departures, Trains, April 1995, p. 18
  13. Kevin P. Keefe, Will Rob Krebs win the West?, Trains, May 1995, pp. 14-15
  14. Scanner, Trains, June 1995, p. 21
  15. J. David Ingles, BN-Santa Fe widens its lanes, Trains, July 1995, pp. 22-23
  16. News Photos, Trains, July 1996, p. 30
  17. Interstate Commerce Commission, Finance Docket No. 31730 (Sub-No. 1), August 25, 1995
  18. Arrivals & Departures, Trains, October 1995, p. 18
  19. Scanner, Trains, June 1996, p. 23
  20. Securities and Exchange Commission, Form 10-K: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation for the year ended December 31, 2007
  21. Moody's Transportation Manual, 1992, p. 12
  22. Kevin P. Keefe, Carving up the West, Trains, December 1995, pp. 16-18
  23. Surface Transportation Board, Finance Docket No. 32760, August 6, 1996
  24. Bill Stephens, Is Conrail a UP spoiler?, Trains, July 1996, pp. 19-22
  25. Surface Transportation Board, Finance Docket No. 32760 (Sub-No. 19), September 9, 1996
  26. Arrivals & Departures, Trains, September 1996, p. 20
  27. Arrivals & Departures, Trains, December 1996, p. 22
  28. J. David Ingles, BNSF begins service on UP merger routes, Trains, January 1997, pp. 20-21
  29. Bruce Kelly, The thunder returns to Stampede Pass, Trains, November 1997, pp. 40-51
  30. David Lustig, Merger or no, Santa Fe has work to do, Trains, February 1995, pp. 20-22
  31. Michael W. Blaszak, CN, BNSF seek to combine; timing curious, Trains, March 2000, pp. 16-18
  32. Michael W. Blaszak, STB slams on the brakes on mergers, Trains, June 2000, pp. 16-17
  33. Michael W. Blaszak, Stymied: BNSF, CN won't fight on, Trains, October 2000, pp. 18-19
  34. Michael W. Blaszak, Lawyers, start your engines!, Trains, September 2001, pp. 16-17
  35. Ellis, David. "Buffett's firm to buy Burlington Northern,”, November 3, 2009
  36. Kevin P. Keefe and Steve Glischinski, Meanwhile, back in Fort Worth..., Trains, November 1995, pp. 18-18A
  37. Burlington Northern Santa Fe: A gradual change of image, Trains, April 1996, p. 17
  38. Steve Glischinski, It's 'all in the family' with the latest BNSF locomotive paint scheme, Trains, August 1996, pp. 16-17
  39. News Photos, Trains, October 1996, p. 28
  40. Railroad News, Trains, October 1997, pp. 30-31
  41. Michael W. Blaszak, BNSF strives for an effective blend, Trains, April 1997, p. 43
  42. BNSF dips into the paint bucket again, Trains, November 1997, p. 20
  43. Power Desk, Trains, February 1998, p. 20
  44. News Photos, Trains, December 1996, pp. 34-35
  45. BNSF Adopts New Corporate and Subsidiary Logos and Changes Name of Railway Subsidiary as Part of Tenth Anniversary Celebration, January 24, 2005
  46. Front-runner for new BNSF image, Trains, June 2005, p. 20
  47. BNSF selects new livery; is it "Heritage III"?, Trains, July 2005, p. 25
  48. Another BNSF "one of a kind?", Trains, August 2005, p. 25

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