This month BNSF placed in service 5 miles of fourth main track on the Hereford Subdivision through Amarillo, Texas.
Next month BNSF expects to open nearly 10 miles of new triple track on the Gallup Subdivision between Belen and Dalies, N.M.
And early next year along the Arizona-California border, BNSF will open a new section of triple track on its Needles Sub between West Needles and Ibis along with a 4-mile section of quadruple track on its Seligman Sub through the city of Needles, Calif.
The projects will position BNSF for further growth while improving velocity and fluidity for current traffic, Tom Williams, the railroad’s vice president for consumer products, told the North East Association of Rail Shippers fall conference on Wednesday.
The additional high iron will allow 70-mph intermodal trains to leap ahead of slower-moving merchandise and unit trains at crew-change points, Williams says, which will alleviate congestion and improve service.
BNSF’s average train velocity has dipped since late last year amid strong traffic growth and all-time volume records.
The project at Belen, where BNSF inspects and fuels trains, is particularly important.
“You want to have the ability for the faster trains to get around the slower-speed trains and get out in front of them on the network,” Williams says. “In terms of improving velocity this is going to be an impactful investment. It will come online in October.”
The Belen project work alone includes the installation of four new grade crossings, 17 switches, 27,000 concrete rail ties, and 100,000 feet of rail.
The projects are part of BNSF’s overall expansion and efficiency budget of $500 million this year.