BNSF takes every precaution to make sure that all track components including rail, crossties, spikes, bolts and plates and even the roadbed underlying the track are stable and dependable. One of the technologies used for inspecting tracks is its fleet of geometry cars, better known as “geo cars.”
There are two types: the traditional geometry car, which is supported by personnel onboard the consist, and an unmanned version that does not have personnel onboard. On average, BNSF’s geo car fleet annually covers up to 400,000 track miles, with the unmanned cars able to operate 24/7.
Onboard sensors, including cameras, lasers, radar and machine vision systems survey the track structure passing beneath to find a variety of flaws, some imperceptible to the human eye. Data generated by the test cars is processed using algorithms and artificial intelligence to analyze hundreds of millions of bytes of data and determine when and where track maintenance is needed.
Environmental Protection on Track with BNSF Railway
Rail is the most sustainable way to move goods long distances over land, and BNSF is a recognized leader. Here are just a few ways BNSF makes sure its railroad is part of the solution for a cleaner, healthier planet:
Cleaner, Smarter Machines: No other form of land freight transportation is more fuel- and resource-efficient than rail, which accounts for more than 40 percent of long-distance freight volumes in the U.S.
Helping Customers Make Green Choices: BNSF provides a carbon calculator method that shows customers just how much they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by putting their shipments on rail instead of the highway.
Ongoing Innovation: BNSF is continuously working on ways to lower emissions. A great example of these efforts is the development and testing of a 100-percent battery electric locomotive.
Learn about more ways BNSF keeps operations green here.
Employee Spotlight: Israel Salazar
Across its network, BNSF is grappling with an overwhelming increase in homeless encampments along the tracks and on railroad property. In response, BNSF created a community liaison position focused solely on addressing system-wide homeless encampments on BNSF tracks.
Israel Salazar, a 26-year employee and BNSF Deputy Police Chief, has been the community liaison since 2017. Soon after taking on the role, he developed a plan, “Project Safe Distance,” to partner with communities to resolve homeless issues on and near BNSF Railway property. Salazar coordinates with local jurisdictions and service providers across our service territory to find safer places for the homeless, help connect them with services and resources, and dismantle encampments on railroad property.
BNSF values its partnerships with cities across the country as we work to keep our communities safe. If you notice a homeless encampment on railroad property, please contact us.
Weekly U.S. Freight Rail Traffic
Freight rail traffic volumes are a useful gauge of broader economic activity, both for specific industries and for the economy as a whole.
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:
Supporting Excellence in Education for Schools in Billings, MT
The Education Foundation for Billings Public Schools provides support to educators and students through philanthropy, connection, and collaboration. They believe that all students in Billings Public Schools deserve a rigorous, well-rounded education to prepare them for successful careers and strive to give all students the tools they need to reach their greatest potential and to develop into engaged and productive citizens. BNSF Railway Foundation contributed $5,000 toward excellence in education.
Recognizing Extraordinary Teachers in Great Falls, MT
The Great Falls Public Schools Foundation enhances high-quality teaching and life-long learning for students in Great Falls Public Schools by funding innovative educational programs and scholarships. BNSF Railway Foundation sponsors the Teachers of the Year program in which two educators are selected from the 66 teachers nominated by the students as part of Excellence in Education. The winning teachers each receive $2,500 to use for continuing education or for equipment or materials for their classroom.
BNSF Director Administration Rick Stauffer presented the BNSF Railway Excellence in Education award to Paul Asleson, West High German Teacher. The award recognizes teachers who excel in connecting with students and provide exceptional learning experiences.