BNSF rails it to China

MAJOR coal hauler Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway announced Monday it plans to open an office in Shanghai, China, the first US rail company to do so.

Donna Schmidt

The office is tentatively scheduled to open during the second quarter of this year, BNSF officials said Monday at the company’s inaugural International Supply Chain Summit in the major Chinese city.

“As the United States trade with Asia continues to grow, it becomes more and more important for BNSF to collaborate with our customers in countries such as China to ensure the fluidity of US-Asia trade,” said company consumer products vice-president Steve Branscum.

“The BNSF International Supply Chain Summit and the new China office will allow us to expand out presence in Asia, strengthen existing partnerships with key stakeholders in international trade and explore growth opportunities in other Asian countries.”

The company noted its first expansion by its predecessor companies took place in the early 1970s, when they opened offices in Japan. BNSF’s international intermodal division, which originates from China, has returned an excellent annual growth rate of 13% since 2000, making the decision to expand even more timely.

“China is a key driver in BNSF’s international intermodal business and we continue to expand our network and services to accommodate their growth,” Branscum said.

The company announced growth on its home turf in January with the addition of more than 50 miles of double- and triple-track rail line to its Powder River Basin Joint Line as well as in Nebraska, increasing its ability to ship coal from the vital region. It is also planning an expansion of its Lincoln, Nebraska facility.

BNSF Railway operates approximately 32,000 route miles throughout 28 US states.