Category Archives: BNSF

Montana Business Park Receives BNSF Certification

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The Kootenai Business Park in Libby, Montana, is now officially one of roughly 20 industrial sites nationwide to be certified by BNSF Railway’s certification program.

In 2016, the Kootenai Business Park received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to restore rail service into the business park.

The total cost of the rail project was $1.6 million to rebuild the 14,000-foot rail spur that originally connected the former Stimson Lumber Co. mill site to BNSF Railway’s main line between Chicago and Seattle.

The Lincoln County Port Authority (LCPA) owns and operates 400 acres of commercial/industrial property acquired after Stimson Lumber Company ceased activity on the property in 2002.

The property, referred to as the Kootenai Business Park (KBP), is suitable for commercial and industrial redevelopment, and a major strategy of the KBP has been the continued investment in infrastructure on the site to attract and support business development.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

U.S. Rail Infrastructure Market to Reach $5.93 billion by 2025

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According to analysts at ResearchAndMarkets.com, the U.S. rail infrastructure market is projected to reach $5.93 billion by 2025.

“We will not hesitate to bring on additional resources — including infrastructure, equipment, and people — to handle the growth our customers bring us,” BNSF Railway CEO Carl Ice stated in a recent letter to federal regulators at the Surface Transportation Board.

Traffic volume at BNSF Railways is currently at historically high levels for this time of year, Ice also noted.

The U.S. rail infrastructure market is expected to witness a lucrative growth on account of increasing population and demographics in this country. United States is becoming an urbanized country and it is anticipated that it will cover larger network of metropolitan areas.

The report notes that the industry also provides 221,000 jobs across United States and also offers various public benefits such as reducing highway fatalities, logistics cost, greenhouse gases and fuel consumption, reduction in road congestion, and public infrastructure maintenance cost. Rising passenger volume, increasing number of rail routes and network, rolling infrastructure and stock, growing awareness regarding passenger rail is anticipated to boost the U.S. rail infrastructure market over the forecast period.

Railroads are continuously developing and researching high tech innovations to enhance rail operations which in turn is expected to add market growth. Growing investment in locomotives, freight cars, computer equipment, highway equipment, and other equipment is anticipated to add U.S. rail infrastructure market growth over the forecast period.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

BNSF Restrictions Creates Rush for New Tank Cars

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After BNSF suffered a June derailment that saw ruptured tank cars spill some 230,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into an Iowa river, the class 1 railroad has reportedly responded by limiting the number of retrofitted tank cars called DOT 117Rs.

According to Reuters, BNSF banned the retrofitted cars, which were the type of cars that leaked in the Iowa spill, from all new contracts. The move sent refiners and producers scrambling to lease new tank cars.

BNSF has not confirmed the restriction.

The lease price of new tank cars has more than doubled from $400 a month last year to $1,000 today.

BNSF does not own the tank cars that run on its lines hauling crude oil and ethanol. The cars are owned by companies such as ConocoPhillips, or leased from brokers.

Ironically, BNSF, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, is limiting the very tank cars that are retrofitted by UTLX, another Berkshire company. UTLX has retrofitted almost 5,000 DOT-111 tank cars to the new DOT-117R standards.

In 2016, UTLX opened a tank car remanufacturing facility in Marion, Ohio to bring older tank cars up to DOT-117R standards and continue to be used for flammable liquids service.

The retrofits includes new top fittings protection, thermal insulation, an 11-gauge steel jacket, full ½-inch thick head shields, and a bottom outlet valve handle that disengages from the valve when the car is in transit.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Despite PTC Implementation, BNSF Files Extension

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BNSF Railway has announced that as of December 2017 it had fully installed and was operating under Positive Train Control (PTC) on all mandated subdivisions in advance of the December 31, 2018 deadline.

It has now announced that it nonetheless submitted a request to the Department of Transportation (DOT) for a two-year extension of the PTC deadline. The extension is required due to the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) current interpretation of the law that full implementation status cannot be achieved until all non-BNSF trains and/or equipment operating on its PTC-equipped lines are also PTC-compliant.

“BNSF has succeeded in the adoption of this key safety technology. Even with this request for a deadline extension, BNSF’s PTC network is installed and we are currently running, and will continue to run, more than a thousand trains daily with PTC as we continue to refine the system and resolve technological challenges,” said Chris Matthews, BNSF assistant vice president, Network Control Systems.

As reported, BNSF completed the installation of all mandated PTC infrastructure at the end of 2017, including 88 required subdivisions covering more than 11,500 route miles on its network. However, to be considered fully implemented requires that all other railroads operating across any of BNSF’s PTC-equipped lines must be capable of operating with BNSF’s PTC system. This interoperability of PTC systems between Class I, commuter and short line rail carriers remains a challenge.

BNSF has successfully demonstrated interoperability with several railroads that operate on its network, including commuter railroads and Amtrak. However, not all railroads that operate on BNSF will have completed their PTC installation by the end of 2018.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

BNSF Logistics Acquires Unlimited Freight

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BNSF Logistics, a multi-modal third-party logistics service provider, has acquired Unlimited Freight, located in New Braunfels, Texas.

This acquisition strengthens BNSF Logistics’ service offering for flatbed movements across North America and provides additional local resources to support this global company.

“We are excited to add Unlimited Freight to our family,” BNSF Logistics President Dan Curtis said. “This addition brings talented employees with deep industry experience as well as valuable new customers to our rapidly growing organization and aligns with our goal to increase our geographic footprint.”

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

BNSF Tops Among Class 1 Railroads

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With its carloads up a strong 10.2 percent year-over-year, BNSF Railway is continuing to power towards an outstandingly profitable year.

The strong gains are the highest of all Class 1 railroads.

Of particular note are higher grain shipments, as well as significant increases in metallic ores and sand/gravel.

The grain shipments mean a record number of trains running through Southwest Washington state. The new record surpasses the previous record set pre-Great Recession in 2006.

Just another sign that this is shaping up to be a very good year for BNSF.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

BNSF Proposes Idaho Bridge Project

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BNSF Railway is looking to build a second rail line over Lake Pend Oreille in Sandpoint, Idaho to reduce congestion on the current one-lane bridge.

The bridge would be adjacent to the existing rail bridge, and the project also includes new bridges over Sand Creek and Bridge Street in Sandpoint.

In Sandpoint, BNSF’s mainline track merges with Montana Rail Link, creating a bottleneck of multiple tracks merging into a single track across Lake Pend Oreille.

Since only one train can cross at a time, trains are often staged, leaving them idling and blocking local roadways while waiting to cross.

The upgrade will reduce congestion, and help move current freight traffic and future volumes more efficiently.

The bridge will also benefit passenger trains that run on BNSF’s main line.

When the second bridge is completed, trains will run in both directions, reducing the need to idle while waiting to cross the existing single track. As a result, local drivers could see shorter wait times on nearby roads that cross BNSF tracks, and the flow of freight and passenger trains will be improved throughout the region.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

After 2016 Slump, BNSF Has the Trains Rolling

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Back in 2016, BNSF Railway had a shipping slump that saw it idling over a thousand locomotives,

Now, as shipping numbers continue to climb for the second year, the freight railroad is not only back on track, but the locomotives are back on the track.

At the nadir, BNSF had some 1,200 locomotives in storage. It was a highly visible sign of a lower shipping volumes for coal, petroleum, and metals.

In Gillette, Wyoming alone there were 150 locomotives and rail engines sitting idle.

Now, the 1,200 locomotives in storage has been halved to 600, as combined intermodal and carloads numbers are up a solid 4.87% in the aggregate from the same period in 2017.

Of particular note are higher grain shipments, which as of the week ending April 28, 2018, are up 7.78% over the same period last year.

Back in 2016, BNSF also furloughed roughly ten-percent of its workforce. Now, it is offering bonuses up to $25,000 for new hires.

Just another sign that this is shaping up to be a very good year for BNSF.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

BNSF Offering Large Hiring Bonuses

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These are good times to be working on the railroad.

Not so far back in 2016, BNSF Railway was battling lower coal shipping volumes by mothballing hundreds of locomotives and laying off workers. That year it furloughed roughly ten-percent of its workforce.

Lines of idled BNSF locomotives that were in storage on tracks in rail yards near Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kansas, were a visual reminder that 2016 car loads slumped down dramatically from 2015 levels.

Now, with carload volumes surging 10.6 percent year-over-year, BNSF is hiring and finds itself competing for workers in a tight labor market. As a result, BNSF is offering hiring bonuses of as much as $25,000.

Union Pacific is offering similar bonuses.

The railroads are hiring during a time of very low unemployment. Nationally, the rate is 4.1 percent, but in Nebraska, where BNSF is offering $20,000 for hiring of diesel mechanics and for railcar repair, the unemployment rate is only 2.8 percent.

The incentives come with a 3 year hold-down and are forfeited if the employee leaves the location or job for any reason.

Among the locations where BNSF is offering $25,000 for certain types of jobs include Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Topeka, Denver, and Chicago.

“We are constantly evaluating the market and will use this approach when it makes sense to recruit talented individuals for hard to fill positions or locations,” BNSF spokeswoman Amy Casas was quoted in the Wall Street Journal.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

BNSF Carloads Bring Positive News

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Solid carload numbers are continuing to bring good news to BNSF Railway when compared to 2017.

Combined intermodal and carloads numbers are up 4.74% in the aggregate.

Of particular note are higher grain shipments, which as of the week ending April 7, 2018, are up 7.74% over the same period last year.

Also, showing strong numbers are sand and gravel shipments, which are up 8.12%, and petroleum is up 1.31 %.

Noteworthy on the downside are coal shipments, which are -1.94% and motor vehicles shipments are down -3.11%.

2017 was a strong year for BNSF, with the combined carloads including intermodal up 5.48%. So far, 2018 is even better.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.