BNSF to Spend $100 Million on Montana Rail System

Railroad announced it would spend approximately $3.4 billion across 32,000-mile system

By Justin Franz
A BNSF Railway freight train runs along the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. Beacon file photo

BNSF Railway will invest approximately $3.4 billion into its 32,000-mile rail system that covers the western two-thirds of the United States, including $100 million here in Montana.

According to a press release, the railroad plans on spending at least $2.4 billion on its “core network” by replacing and upgrading rail, wooden crossties, rock ballast and maintaining locomotives and cars. The 2017 maintenance program announced this week will focus on 20,000 miles of track, including much of the BNSF system in Montana. BNSF owns about 1,900 miles of track in Montana, including its Chicago to Seattle main line that goes through the northwest part of the state.

The railroad will also spend about $400 million on expansion projects system wide, $100 million on the implementation of a safety system called “positive train control,” and $400 million on new locomotives and cars.

“Each year we establish a capital plan that reflects the future needs of our customers and the constant need to keep our infrastructure in good working condition,” said BNSF President and CEO Carl Ice. “This year’s capital plan ensures we continue to operate a safe and reliable rail network while capturing new opportunities our customers will present to us.”

BNSF spokesperson Ross Lane said the railroad has invested more than $500 million on its Montana rail system in the last five years.