October 2019 • The latest from the Pacific Northwest
BNSF’s Cutting-Edge Technology on Display at Tech Day
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.
BNSF and Agriculture: A Relationship with Roots in the 19th Century
BNSF and the agriculture industry have enjoyed a longstanding and historically significant relationship for nearly two centuries. The partnership is an important link in the world’s food chain with agricultural products currently compiling over 10 percent of BNSF’s load volumes annually.
In the 1850s, representatives from BNSF predecessor Chicago, Burlington & Quincy worked with farmers and offered advice on which crops could be successfully cultivated in certain regions. This cooperative partnership led to the introduction of alfalfa as a commercial crop in Nebraska in 1875. Even in those early years, the railroads brought the most advanced agriscience directly to the producer through livestock trains and seed and soil exhibits.
This thriving relationship continues today thanks to BNSF’s agricultural ombudsmen who offer farmers a single contact and liaison between the agriculture community and the railroad. The program spans BNSF’s network with ombudsmen overseeing their respective regions and making regular visits with their region’s producers. Learn more about our relationship with America’s farmers at https://www.bnsf.com/news-media/railtalk/service/meet-the-ombudsman.html.
Securing Railroad Safety with Man’s Best Friend
You may have heard of K-9 police units, but what about railroad K-9 units?
BNSF’s K-9 program was created to help BNSF special agents patrol the tracks and ensure the security of our network. The program is rigorous and requires the special agent and K-9 to train and live together, making them true partners.
The dogs and handlers are trained in multiple areas, including narcotics detection, patrolling, suspect apprehension and engagement standards that are based on guidelines from the National Police K-9 Association, with an emphasis on explosion detection added after 9/11. The training requires 320 hours prior to the two-day certification.
BNSF primarily uses German Shepherds for the company’s K-9 units, but Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds also join the force on occasion. These breeds tend to be obedient, are well-equipped at searching and have the nose for detection. For non-working hours, knowing how to relax is just as important.
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:
Empowering Women in our Communities
As part of the organization’s efforts to support women in their community, YWCA Spokane’s Women’s Opportunity Center (WOC) provides economic empowerment advocacy to survivors of intimate partner violence. To help fund this program, the BNSF Railway Foundation donated funds aimed at helping survivors recover from being economically disenfranchised by their abuser.
Encouraging After-School Learning
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Snohomish County offer academic enrichment programming to ensure all children have opportunities to succeed in their education through programs such as Project Learn. The program encourages high-yield learning activities including reading, writing and games that improve cognitive skills. To encourage after-school learning in Snohomish County, the BNSF Railway Foundation donated $5,000 to Project Learn.
Assisting Low-Income Patients with Treatment Costs
The BNSF Railway Foundation recently donated $2,500 to the Highline Medical Center Foundation to provide financial assistance to low-income cancer patients. The foundation raises funds for the Highline Medical Center, and the BNSF Railway Foundation’s gift will go towards financial counseling, services and medical treatment.
Supporting Inclusion in the Special Olympics
Through programming in sports, inclusive health, education and community building, Special Olympics is changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. To support Special Olympics’ life-changing mission, the BNSF Railway Foundation donated $5,000 to Special Olympics Washington to help organize the Summer State Games 2019, held in Everett on Aug. 16-18.
Preventing Homelessness with a Holistic Approach
The BNSF Railway Foundation recently donated $2,000 to West Seattle Helpline to assist local residents through difficult times with a holistic homelessness prevention approach. The organization’s “neighbors helping neighbors” approach served over 6,200 people in the 2019 fiscal year through emergency rent and utility assistance, King County Metro vouchers and clothing donations.
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].