For more than 150 years, BNSF and predecessor railroads have partnered with the United States Armed Forces on military operations during war and peacetime.
Dating back to the Civil War (1861-1865), also referred to as “the first railroad war,” railroads have transported supplies and troops for deployment. Trains were a crucial new and innovative technology for both Union and Confederate forces as they moved men and supplies at a level never seen before.
Although moving troops via rail is a thing of the past, BNSF continues to ship the equipment needed to bolster our country’s defenses. Rail is a vital cog in the U.S. Armed Forces logistics machine and BNSF works daily with the military. That coordination is key to the Department of Defenses’ Railroads for National Defense Program, which makes sure the American rail network is ready to mobilize for defense deployment and urgent peacetime needs. The program works with the Federal Railroad Administration and freight railroads and established an expansive 33,000-mile interconnected national rail system called the Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET). It’s the nation’s vascular system that allows the military’s flow of defensible units from fort to seaport.
Moving heavy military equipment can be a tricky task, and each brigade movement is different. BNSF utilizes state-of-the-art chain tie-down flatcars that can adjust to carry large vehicles, as well as 20- to 40-foot containers, to ensure we can move the requested equipment.
BNSF is a transportation service provider for the military and is a member of the National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA), a collection of government, military and private sector organizations working together on military logistics and transportation. Our involvement with the military also goes beyond transportation needs—about one in five BNSF employees is a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.
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.
The BNSF Railway Foundation continues to invest in the communities across the 28 states through which BNSF operates, and where BNSF employees live, work and volunteer. Recent contributions include:
Introducing Boundary County, Idaho’s Newest Police Officer
The BNSF Foundation recently awarded a $10,000 grant to the Boundary County Sheriff’s Office for a new K-9 unit. The sheriff’s office’s newest furry additions will help deputies search for missing people and narcotics and will protect police officers from being attacked.
Supporting Advocacy for Domestic Violence Victims Skagit Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services is a non-profit organization in Mount Vernon that provides services to those affected by such violence, with the goal of ending domestic violence and sexual assault in Skagit County. BNSF Railway Foundation recently provided the organization with a $10,000 grant to help them achieve their goals, and to empower and advocate for victims.
Funding Youth Interest in Art
Since the 2000s, The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) has partnered with schools throughout Highline School District to create arts-integrated lessons for teachers across subject areas and grade levels. The BNSF Railway Foundation was honored to award a $10,000 grant to SAM to support funding for the Highline School District programming.
Providing Pathways to Job Security Through Food
The BNSF Railway Foundation recently provided a $10,000 grant to the FareStart Adult Culinary Program to support adults working to turn their lives around after hardship. FareStart is a Seattle-based nonprofit that transforms lives through food by offering culinary training and job placement programs to homeless and disadvantaged community members.
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].