BNSF is Ready to Handle Your West Coast Freight

Jun 16, 2023

On Wednesday, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced that they reached tentative contract agreements. This marks the opening of an exciting chapter in the future of the West Coast ports. BNSF is ready to be a part of that next chapter with you, and we have made sure that we are ready to support your West Coast freight needs both in the immediate and long-term.

Here are some of the steps that we have taken and investments we have made to improve both the capacity and the overall experience of shipping through the West Coast when connecting through the BNSF network:

Expanding capacity at our intermodal facilities on the West Coast:

  • Increased parking capacity supporting our Hobart intermodal facility in Los Angeles by 500 spaces, as well as installed new crane stacking technology creating additional lift capacity.
  • Continuing a multi-year project to increase efficiency at our San Bernardino intermodal facility, including extending the east lead track ~10,000 feet to increase switching capabilities, complemented by 5,000 feet of new production track capacity and approximately 500 new parking spaces.
    • By extending the Ono Lead and replacing the Mount Vernon Avenue Bridge that spans the facility in collaboration with local state and federal government entities, we will proactively help alleviate potential congestion both within and outside of the facility.
  • Expanded transloading capacity in the greater Seattle region through our partnership with the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) and J.B. Hunt to create the Tacoma South facility at the Port of Tacoma, enabling additional capacity at our South Seattle Intermodal facility.

More capacity available across the network, including inland facilities, to support growth and consistency of service:

  • Since 2019, BNSF has spent more than $2 billion in capital expansion, increasing the overall capacity of our tracks, railcars and facilities.
    • These investments have net increased our main line track capacity by 58 miles, totaling ~30,000 feet for new production tracks and ~6,000 new parking spaces at our intermodal facilities. This includes expansion at locations such as:
      • Alliance, TX: Added 3 miles of production tracks, 2,000+ parking spaces and a new multi-lane ingate.
      • Logistics Park Chicago (LPC), IL: Expanded our use of remotely operated cranes to maximize capacity and improve throughput, gaining 18 hours of productivity each day.
      • Cicero, IL: Increased parking capacity by ~20%, with continued expansion work continuing this year and into next year for additional production track and parking capacity.
    • Secured approx. 2,000 additional parking stalls in secondary locations around our intermodal facilities to utilize as needed to better handle volume surges.
  • In 2023, we are continuing our project to add a total of ~45 miles of triple track between Barstow and Needles, with about 30 miles coming online in 2023, as well as completing a 50-mile double track segment in Kansas, closing up one of the last major single track sections remaining on the Southern Transcon connecting the West Coast to Chicago.
    • We have also taken the first steps this year in constructing a new second main track bridge over the Missouri River at Sibley. This will be a major undertaking over the course of the next couple of years, and will significantly complement the double track work we have completed west of Kansas City, offering customers faster transit times and better consistency, as well as improving our ability to handle seasonal volume swings across the Southern Transcon.

Deploying new technologies to improve consistency, capacity, and customer experience:

  • Enhancing our driving interface app RailPASS, including implementing a new pickup appointment system for stacked units at LPC in the fourth quarter of 2023 to reduce time in the facility for drivers and improve efficiency.
  • Utilizing unit loading and de-ramping optimization technology to improve transit consistency and facility fluidity by best utilizing available parking capacity.
  • Using machine vision optical character recognition (OCR) technology to support inventory accuracy, with the ability to have every shipment parking location being known in real-time to help with a seamless driver pick-up experience and train loading efficiency.
    • This technology in particular is an incredibly important spring board for all of our other optimization efforts that deliver better consistency of our service with more capacity to offer our customers.

Additional operational actions to support growth:

  • In 2022, we achieved our hiring plan of 3,000 additional employees, which included ~1,800 additional train crew employees.
    • We have a strong hiring plan in 2023, as well as for those locations that remain challenging to hire.
  • Since 2019, we have purchased 20 additional railcar sets (4,800 double stack platforms), of BNSF-owned equipment, while continuing to participate in North American fleet pools.
    • Alongside participating in the national railcar pool fleets, our investment in our own intermodal fleet, which is the largest in the industry, is a critical mechanism in helping ensure capacity when our customers need it most during peak demand times.
  • Positioned 100 locomotives as a “ready fleet” across the West Coast and other strategic network locations to respond to any service disruptions.

With all the measures we have taken to increase our network fluidity, velocity and capacity, BNSF is ready to handle the increased demand through the West Coast and meet your service expectations. Still, it remains important that we continue to work together to ensure prompt pick-up of shipments to provide the space needed for processing inbound freight as expeditiously as possible. Our marketing representatives are ready to collaborate with you to find the solutions to meet your freight needs and to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you, as always, for your continued business and the opportunity to serve as your transportation service provider.