BNSF's economic impact

Economic Impact

U.S. and global economies rely on rail, and BNSF is a vital link in the global supply chain. We enable our customers to participate in a wide range of markets in North America and around the world. Recognizing our contribution to our nation’s economy, we work to listen and respond to customers’ needs, maintain strong corporate governance, provide value to our owners, and strategically invest to keep our rail network strong. We generate:

  • High-paying rail industry jobs.
  • Additional industry-supported jobs.
  • Industry and consumer connection to the global market.
  • Local community growth from sizeable funds infused into the market and government budgets.

Providing Needed Capacity

We serve a wide variety of shippers in nearly all U.S. industries, and we are working to provide consistent, reliable service today and to build our capacity to meet future demand. We’re maintaining and improving our infrastructure, expanding capacity as needed and investing in our fleet of locomotives and railcars. We’re also constantly investing to ensure our network will safely and efficiently meet freight transportation needs for decades to come.

Maintaining and Expanding Infrastructure for a Strong Network

Unlike other modes of transportation, U.S. railroads, including BNSF, own and maintain their rights of way. We fund the building, maintenance and repair of a private “rail highway” that delivers tremendous transportation value for our customers and the nation.

Since 2000 we have invested more than $60 billion into our network. That includes maintaining a strong railroad through strategic investments in expanding track, yards and terminals; track renewal; technology; and new locomotives. These substantial investments reflect our strong commitment to a safe and reliable rail network.

According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), railroads spent more than $660 billion on their privately owned networks between 1980 and 2017. That’s more than 40 cents out of every revenue dollar.

Outlook for Future Capacity Growth

The challenge throughout the rail industry is realizing a sufficient return on invested capital to enable investments that will meet long-term capacity needs. At BNSF, we work to sustain adequate returns so we can maintain and build our network to meet our shippers’ transportation needs.

The U.S. Department of Transportation projects that demand for rail freight transportation, measured in tonnage, will increase 88 percent by 2035. As the economy rebounds and freight demand grows, the nation will need new capacity through expanded infrastructure and improved productivity.

At BNSF, all of our investments in capital, asset utilization, people and technology help ensure we have the capacity to meet current and future freight transportation needs, while also improving our operating reliability and efficiency. The result is a stronger transportation infrastructure for our nation and a more reliable supply chain for our customers.