Did you know the term “beans” on the railroad means it’s time to eat? Ever heard of a gandy dancer? What’s a mother and slug? Did you know that a shoo-fly is a railroad term for a by-pass track? The rail industry has its own unique vernacular that has developed over nearly 200 years and is used by railroaders and railfans alike. BNSF has curated an industry-specific alphabet for rail enthusiasts who want to brush up on their rail knowledge or learn something new.
BNSF trains operate across much of the West, including areas where high winds and drought conditions can result in wildfires on or near tracks. BNSF takes steps to prevent fires but they often occur from other sources like lightning strikes, trespassers, etc., and the sooner they’re put out, the sooner train service can get back on track.
To combat wildfires, BNSF has tank cars full of water staged in areas prone to fire conditions. The trains are specially equipped to fight fires on BNSF tracks or structures as well as provide assistance to local fire departments. In addition to getting firefighters to places that firetrucks can’t access and where there are no water sources, BNSF’s fire trains can carry 30,000 gallons of water. By comparison, a firetruck averages 500 gallons of water.
“BNSF prepares to respond to all different types of weather related events – wildland fires are such an event,” said Danniel MacDonald, BNSF’s general director of line maintenance. “Multiple departments all work together – in a Wired Tight effort – to prepare and safely respond. Communication and coordination with public agencies is key to our success.”
BNSF Identifies Two New Rail-served Sites for Development
One way BNSF works to ensure the right solution is offered to each customer is by scouting out potential sites for development in advance of customer inquiries. BNSF's Site Certification Program identifies optimal rail-served sites and conducts in-depth reviews of ten economic development criteria to determine if the site meets BNSF’s stringent readiness standards. BNSF certification ensures a site is ready for rapid acquisition and development. Selecting a certified site can reduce development time, increase speed to market and reduce upfront development risk of rail-served industrial sites. Last month, BNSF awarded two new locations its Certified Sites designation, including a Poplar Montana site:
Fort Peck Tribal Industrial Park, Poplar, Montana – Zoned for heavy industrial, the site encompasses 45 acres located north of U.S. Highway 2 on the Fort Peck Reservation outside city limits, in Roosevelt County.
Somerville Industrial, Somerville, Texas – This property consists of 103 acres without zoning requirements or restrictions and is conveniently located east of State Highway 36, only 20 miles outside of Bryan-College Station, Texas.
As summer weather inspires more exploration and adventure, it’s important to remember the dangers inherent in driving over or walking over rail tracks. A typical freight train can take more than a mile to stop, even when emergency brakes are applied—the distance of 18 football fields! While the number of highway-rail crossing collisions, deaths and injuries has dropped over the past five decades, it’s still a fact that a person or vehicle is struck by a train roughly once every three hours. Nearly all rail-related deaths involve drivers trying to beat a train, or people trespassing on railroad tracks.
BNSF is proud to be a sponsor of Pacific Northwest Economic Region’s (PNWER) 2021 Annual Summit which will take place August 15-19 in Big Sky, Montana. Postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, the PNWER Annual Summit returns in 2021 as the leading forum where people in the policy and business come together to solve regional challenges. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the continued closure of the Canada-U.S. border to non-essential travel, PNWER is currently planning the 2021 Summit as a hybrid event.
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:
Building Caring, Confident Youth
Camp Fire Columbia is a youth development organization located in Portland, OR with a mission to build caring, confident youth and future leaders. Camp Fire Columbia directly serves 3,500 kids and helps to serve thousands more children and families broadly each year through partnerships and special projects. BNSF Railway Foundation contributed toward Camp Fire Columbia’s Camp Namanu which welcomes over 1,500 campers each summer in its 552 acres beneath Mt. Hood.
Transforming Lives Through Food
FareStart in Seattle, WA has been helping people transform their lives through food for nearly 30 years. People experiencing poverty struggle to escape the cycle they are in and often face other compounding barriers to getting and keeping a job. FareStart helps people overcome barriers by teaching work and life skills needed to succeed in employment and in life. BNSF Railway Foundation provided a grant to support FareStart hunger relief and food security.
Providing Shelter, Care, and Services for Youth
Volunteers of America of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho specializes in providing care to youth and adults with housing first solutions and low barrier access to services. BNSF Railway Foundation contributed $5,000 toward the Volunteers of America Crosswalk 2.0 which is a project to relocate and expand the Crosswalk Youth Shelter. The organization has purchased land close to Spokane Community College and will be building an expanded service model that includes the original shelter and wrap around services.