BNSF Closes 2,000th Grade Crossing as Part of Safety Program

FORT WORTH, Texas – The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company (BNSF) announced that, in December 2003, it closed its 2,000th highway-rail grade crossing since the beginning of year 2000.

During the four-year period from 2000 to 2003, BNSF closed six percent of its grade crossings, in a cooperative effort with landowners and communities along its route to identify unnecessary or redundant grade crossings. BNSF currently has approximately 30,000 at-grade crossings across its 32,500-mile rail network. BNSF is a subsidiary of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation.

“There’s no question that eliminating an unnecessary or redundant crossing can improve safety,” said Greg Stengem, BNSF’s vice president, Safety, Training and Operations Support. “In some cases, when we can close a crossing, motorists are redirected to an adjacent grade crossing with a heightened level of grade crossing warning, such as gates and warning lights. With every grade crossing eliminated, we’re also able to reduce the number of train whistles that must be sounded in the community.”

The aggressive program will continue in 2004, with a target of more than 400 grade crossing closures for the year.

“We commend BNSF’s long-term commitment to the tough work of closing highway-rail crossings,” said Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Administrator Allan Rutter. “These successful efforts positively demonstrate that crossing closure is a viable option, one deserving full consideration by all communities seeking to address highway-rail crossing safety.”

The grade crossing closure initiative is part of BNSF’s grade crossing safety program, which has the goal of reducing grade crossing collisions, injuries and fatalities. That program also includes community education, enhanced crossing technology, crossing resurfacing, vegetation control, installation of warning devices, and track and signal inspection and maintenance.

BNSF has one of the lowest highway-railroad grade crossing collision rates in the rail industry. From 2000 to 2003, grade crossing collisions on BNSF track declined 26 percent, decreasing from 568 collisions in 2000 to 422 in 2003. From 2002 to 2003, the number of grade crossing collisions on BNSF track was reduced by 13 percent, according to statistics reported to the FRA.

“It’s clear that our grade crossing closure program has made a difference,” said Greg Fox, BNSF’s vice president, Engineering. “We want to thank the many state and local agencies, as well as landowners, who have assisted with this important safety initiative.”

Of the 2,000 crossings closed, approximately 70 percent were private crossings closed with the cooperation of private landowners. The other 30 percent were public crossings closed in cooperation with local communities.

— PRNewswire-First Call