BNSF spends billions of dollars every year to maintain our 32,500-mile-long rail network in order to keep our customers’ freight moving. In fact, railroads spend an average of 19 percent of revenue on capital expenditures; six times more than the average U.S. manufacturer. For BNSF, that means we’ve invested about $2.4 billion annually on maintenance in 2017 and 2018, with another $2.47 billion set aside for 2019. That’s because we recognize that a well-maintained railroad is a safe railroad.
With such a lengthy rail network, our engineering team carefully plans and prioritizes projects to enhance efficiencies. Projects first must extend the life of our assets, as it doesn’t make fiscal sense to replace infrastructure considered healthy. Second, the work should be near other maintenance projects, so our crews can complete multiple consecutive projects in the same area. Lastly, projects should be a win for the network. It’s not feasible to shut down a crucial section of railroad during peak season, for example, so we carefully choose projects when demand is lower and weather is permissible.