December 2020 • The latest from the Pacific Northwest
BNSF Works Around the Clock to Keep Holiday Foods and Gifts Moving
BNSF doesn’t take a break from delivering the goods needed to keep America – and the holidays – running smoothly. Behind the railroad are the men and women who help move freight trains 24/7. Dispatchers are just one group who have a round-the-clock role in operating about 1,400 trains daily across our expansive 32,500-mile network. Whereas air traffic controllers work with flight crews, dispatchers use state-of-the-art technologies to communicate with train crews and others to control and direct the safe movement of trains.
BNSF’s main dispatching center is at the Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters in the Network Operations Center. Originally opened in 1995 and renovated in 2017, the operations center boasts an operating floor the size of a football field and the largest single-span projector ever manufactured with displays of weather and trains on the system. This vast area and cutting-edge technology allow the 100-plus dispatchers and support staff during each of the three shifts to efficiently perform their duties.
BNSF will host its 22nd Technology Awareness Day celebration through a series of events February 23-26, 2021. BNSF's Technology Awareness Day is part of the National Black Family Technology Awareness Week. Technology Awareness Day at BNSF is a local version of the campaign that aims to educate local minority youths about careers in technology and encourages attendees to design and develop their own technological solutions to real-world challenges that are judged at the event. The 2021 theme is “Living in a Virtual World.”
Although this event is typically held in person at BNSF headquarters in Fort Worth, the event is virtual this year. Students in communities across BNSF’s network are encouraged to participate. Learn more and register for this event here.
Committed to HAZMAT Safety, Including Donated Tank Car to Help with Training
The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office (OSFM) has a new training prop thanks to a donation from BNSF. The railroad provided a second retired tank car to OFSM, which will serve as a training prop for the Portland Fire Department to help them better prepare for responding to rail emergencies, including simulating and practicing leak mitigation, firefighting and spill control techniques.
Working and training with first responders is a core part BNSF’s DNA. Being prepared and preventing incidents in the first place is the best way to keep everyone safe, but in the unlikely event that an incident occurs, a strong emergency response can help minimize its scope and duration. For this reason, BNSF has more than 180 hazardous materials responders and advisors trained to tackle any situation involving a spill or release. We also maintain emergency-response equipment strategically placed at more than 60 locations across our network to support quick and effective hazmat response at all times.
BNSF modified boxcars to serve as mobile classrooms and delivers free, practical hands-on training to first responders across our network. Because the boxcar classroom comes to students, municipalities are able to save both time and travel costs for participants, while receiving high-quality, safety-critical hazmat training in rural areas. BNSF proudly works in partnership with other rail industry organizations to provide training for emergency hazmat response teams through the Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response (TRANSCAER) program.
Since our first-responder training effort began in 1996, we have trained more than 125,000 emergency responders on proper response to a rail hazmat incident. Our contributions to this partnership have led to BNSF being consistently recognized with the TRANSCAER National Achievement Award—2020 marks the 20th year we have received this distinction.
BNSF’s Rotary Snowplows Are Ready for Heavy Snowfall
Weighing in at more than 150 tons and equipped with an 11-foot fan that can cut through deep snowdrifts, rotary snowplows play a crucial role in BNSF’s winter action plans. Rotary snowplows are used after dramatic snowfall events where snow volumes are deeper than the height of BNSF’s typical snowplow blades. BNSF’s regular snowplows can push snow to either side of the track as a train travels through snowdrift. However, snowpack in flatter landscapes can build up so high that this method becomes ineffective. That’s when BNSF’s rotary snowplows become invaluable.
Mechanical crews prepare the plows before the first of November and plows are fully stocked with cold weather equipment, including snow shovels and a generator to power the heater and provide lighting. The rotary plow is not self-propelled, so one or more locomotives are coupled behind to push the plow along the track. The slow-moving, snow-throwing rotaries were originally steam powered, debuting in American railroading in the 1880s. Those now in service with BNSF were originally built in the early 1900s for Northern Pacific and the Great Northern railroads and have since been modernized.
Learn more about BNSF’s rotary snowplows and view photos of old and new plows here.
Supporting Our Communities
The BNSF Railway Foundation invests in the communities across the 28 states through which BNSF operates, and where BNSF employees live, work and volunteer. Recent donations include:
Preserving Tribal Languages
The Inchelium Language & Culture Association fosters and sustains a dynamic community of Salish language speakers whose daily lives are expressed through a commitment to Lakes and Colville culture and a connection to their traditional territories. BNSF Railway Foundation’s contribution of $15,000 supports the organization in helping to develop new Salish language speakers and teachers.
Working to Prevent Youth Violence
BNSF Railway Foundation donated $5,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County toward youth violence prevention programs at the Federal Way Teen Center. For over 75 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of King County has been opening doors of opportunity and moving the needle for youth, creating real opportunity based on their potential.
Providing Healthy Meals to Youth
Boys & Girls Clubs of Whatcom County was founded in 1946 with the mission of enabling all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. BNSF Railway Foundation contributed $2,500 to the organization for nutritious snacks and meals for kids to support active lifestyles.
Ensuring Students Have Access to School Supplies
Schoolhouse Supplies supports public education in the Portland area by providing free school supplies to students in need. BNSF Railway Foundation donated $2,000 to the organization’s Free Store for Teachers which provides school supplies at no cost. Teachers visit the Free Store and bring supplies back to their students and their classrooms.
Creating a New Museum in Northport, WA
Northport Historical Society recently partnered with seventeen members of the Washington National Guard Company #176 to work on restoration of a 1901 structure that will soon house the Northport Welcome Center Museum and Artisans Gallery. A $3,000 grant from BNSF Railway Foundation was used to purchase roofing for the project.
Emergencies – Call 800-832-5452
To report a vehicle stalled on a crossing, suspicious circumstances, malfunctioning crossing gates and lights, or any other emergency, call 800-832-5452 immediately.
Have a Question for Us?
Do you have a question about BNSF or rail in the Pacific Northwest that you would like addressed in future issues of Inside Track? Send them to [email protected].