At BNSF our safety vision is to operate free of accidents and injuries. We believe every accident or injury is preventable.

Employee Training

Our multi-faceted approach to safety training for BNSF team members includes formal training programs based on technical rules, rail industry recommendations and federal regulations, as well as BNSF-specific initiatives developed and conducted by our experts. We invest in a combination of field, on-the-job, long-distance and technical safety training programs.

Internal Recognition

Two prominent annual awards, one recognizing individuals and one teams, celebrate our culture of safety and the people who make it possible.

2022 Safety Employees of the Year
Recognizing team members in multiple departments who embody the BNSF commitment to safety.

  • Warren Forbes, Machine Operator – Heartland Division
  • Ed Lippold, Blacksmith – Heartland Division
  • Tonya Bussard, Safety Assistant – Heartland Division
  • Billy Anderson, Safety Assistant – Heartland Division
  • Randy Tapp, Team Leader – Kansas Division

2022 Safety Bell Recipients
Recognizing BNSF teams that achieve the lowest reportable injury-frequency ratios.

  • Best Overall Division (all crafts combined) – Heartland Division
  • Best Transportation – Heartland Division
  • Best Mechanical Shop – (tie) Havre Locomotive Shop and Commerce Locomotive Shop
  • Best Field Mechanical – (tie) Twin Cities Field Mechanical, Powder River Field Mechanical and Montana Field Mechanical
  • Best Engineering – California Division Engineering

Learn more about Safety Bells

HAZMAT Resources

BNSF is committed to transporting hazardous materials safely – 99.99% of BNSF hazmat shipments reach their destination without a release caused by a train incident. Our rigorous approach to hazmat safety is informed by a framework of measures focused on prevention, mitigation and response. Resources include a network of 180+ responders and advisors trained to deal with all types of hazmat releases and emergency response equipment strategically positioned at 60+ locations across our network.

Resources for responders include:

  • Free training to first responders through the Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response (TRANSCAER) program.
  • BNSF trains 3,000 to 10,000 local emergency responders in Railroad Emergency Response and Hazardous Material Awareness through online and in-person sessions in communities across our network.
  • The AskRail App gives responders access to real-time data on each rail car in a train and its contents, as well as providing railroad contacts during incidents.
  • The website arms community responders with railroad and hazmat information and tools for training.
Since 1996, BNSF has provided training to nearly 130,000 responders.

Grade Crossings

Improving safety at highway-rail grade crossings is an ongoing focus. Efforts include community education and awareness campaigns, train crew education and testing, the deployment of new safety technology and crossing closures (more than 6,500 closed since 2000).

Positive Train Control

Positive Train Control (PTC) is a federally mandated safety system that utilizes global positioning data to monitor train movement, providing warnings to crews, enforcing speed limits and stopping trains when certain conditions arise, such as a switch left in the wrong position. BNSF is a rail industry leader in PTC implementation, with system infrastructure on all of the 91 required subdivisions on our network, as well as an additional 14 non-mandated subdivisions. All told, PTC covers more than 15,880 route miles.

Network Inspections

BNSF regularly inspects all aspects of our network, including our locomotives, track, rail and bridges, and we conduct additional weather-event inspections as conditions demand. Our team of trained inspectors deploys advanced equipment including instrument-equipped rail cars, bridge inspection vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). BNSF inspections meet all federal requirements, and we are committed to timely maintenance, repair and replacement whenever issues or potential issues are detected.

Safety-enhancing technology includes:

  • Machine Vision Systems (MVS)
  • Autonomous track measurement systems
  • Ultrasound for internal rail inspections
  • Ground penetrating radar
  • High-Definition cameras and accelerometers

Brake Health

Cold wheel detectors utilize temperature readings to identify potential braking issues, singling out cars for manual inspection and repair with pinpoint accuracy. The leveraging of this technology allows us to manage our network brake health more effectively and efficiently, cutting down on service interruptions due to braking issues and keeping trains moving on the same line.

Equipment Detector Network

BNSF deploys more than 4,000 trackside detectors that collect and disseminate data around the clock to help us optimize the safety and reliability of our network and equipment. Wayside detectors, driven by artificial intelligence, produce vast amounts of data sets analyzed by computers to evaluate the health of passing trains, identifying conditions otherwise undetectable to the human eye. Detectors are equipped with thermal, acoustic, visual and force sensors. Other trackside safety systems include rockslide detectors and ground movement detectors, both of which alert us to potentially dangerous conditions such as rockslides and high water, enabling BNSF to stop trains until the conditions are addressed and any safety issues are resolved.

Wind Data App

One recent safety enhancement was the development and implementation of a wind data app designed by our Technology and Network Control Systems team. The app enables train crews to access, via their tablets, real-time wind data from fixed anemometers on the network, helping them assess when conditions are safe for continuing train operations.