Since its origins dating back to the 1800s, BNSF has been a leader when it comes to employing innovative technologies in its railroad operations and equipment. This longstanding practice was in full swing last month in Vancouver, Wash., when BNSF showcased the many ways it utilizes cutting-edge technology to safely and efficiently deliver the goods we all use every day.

The Railroad Technology Day gave visitors an up-close look at and hands-on demonstrations of BNSF’s leading technological tools and the employees who operate them. Multi-functional crews displayed mobile apps, web tools, laser and x-ray technology and Big Data capabilities that make the shipping process easier, safer and more cost effective.

The BNSF Fire Train travelled in from Wishram, Wash., located in the Columbia River Gorge. Created by BNSF employees, the train is deployed to suppress fires at locations near BNSF rail lines that are difficult to reach by road. Additional innovative rail detection capabilities, including high-speed laser technology on track geometry cars to test track surface and alignment, were also on display. The trackside detectors—BNSF has more than 4,000—identify even the smallest cracks on our rails so they can be immediately replaced. Faulty train wheels and at-risk undercarriages are also identified to ensure our customers’ products are safely transported.

Drone technology is another important tool BNSF uses to check on service interruptions, detect issues from the air and deploy in events such as flooding. While BNSF staff used to reach the impacted area on foot, the use of drones allows the company to streamline the assessment and recovery plan process while examining areas from the skies.

It’s important for BNSF to show the public what they do and how they’re investing in our communities and local economy, writes Don Brunell, former president of the Association of Washington Business, in the Daily Chronicle.

To watch BNSF’s Railroad Technology Day in action, visit