Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Train News: BNSF Railcars Gone

Great Falls Tribune: BNSF Railcars Gone

The bright yellow BNSF Railway cars that seemed to line the Missouri River from Wolf Creek Canyon to Cascade for about three years — are gone.

BNSF officials announced in March 2010 the railroad was removing one-third of the idled rail cars from that stretch of rail line, inactive itself because of a breach in the line near Ulm.

It turns out they removed all those rail cars over the next three months because of increased freight demand, said BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas. It took two trains a week to remove 771 cars.

The railroad also removed idled cars elsewhere in the state, he said. At a peak in late May 2009, BNSF had 101 miles of stored rail cars in Montana, or about 8,200.

It's now down to 500, clustered in or near towns, including 103 in the Great Falls rail yard.

The demand to put rail cars to work is a good economic sign.

"Certainly increased demand for rail service to transport goods played a key role in our decision to put rail cars back in action," Melonas said. "Freight volume has improved, though it's not back to pre-recession levels."

BNSF got a lot of flak from fishing guides, property owners and the public for parking the cars along the scenic Missouri.

The railroad understands the criticism, and will not make this area its first choice if it has to furlough rail cars again, Melonas said.

"But we can't speculate regarding future demand or storage of rail cars," he said.

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