BNSF Railway Co. said it plans to spend $5 billion this year on capital improvements, an amount that, if achieved, would be a $1 billion increase over 2013 levels and would shatter capital expenditure records for the railroad industry.
Fort Worth, Texas-based BNSF said it expects to spend $2.3 billion on its core network and related assets this year. BNSF also plans to spend approximately $1.6 billion on locomotive, freight car, and other equipment acquisitions. It will spend approximately $900 million for terminal, line, and intermodal expansion and efficiency projects, and another $200 million to install Positive Train Control (PTC) technology that is designed to automatically stop or slow a train before accidents occur. The federal government has mandated that railroads adopt PTC technology as an accident-prevention measure.
No U.S. railroad has ever spent $5 billion in capital expenditures in one year.
A railroad's planned annual expenditures can differ from what it actually spends during any one year. For example, BNSF last year budgeted $4.3 billion for capital expenditures. However, about $300 million of that will be spent in 2014, thus reducing the actual 2013 capital spending to $4 billion, a company spokeswoman told an industry publication.
BNSF said it handled more than half of the industry's volume increases for the rail industry in 2013. The growth included an 8-percent increase in domestic intermodal traffic, an 11-percent gain in industrial products volumes (paced by crude oil traffic), and a 3-percent gain in coal volumes.