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BNSF expands its Tribal Relations team with addition of Quanah Spencer, tribal liaison for Pacific Northwest (353.93 KB)
In late 2014, BNSF announced the formation of a Tribal Relations team, led by Director Chris Howell, with a focus on strengthening and reinforcing BNSF relationships with Native American tribes. Howell has since been joined by Quanah Spencer, tribal liaison for the Pacific Northwest, and a third member will come on board later to support the Great Plains. “Chris and his team are helping BNSF engage tribal communities, exploring opportunities that can enhance a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect, and potentially grow our business while enhancing tribal economies, jobs and educational opportunities,” says Andrew Johnsen, assistant vice president, Community Affairs. “We have some pretty good examples of working together on projects, such as adding the second main line through Abo Canyon in New Mexico. But what we have lacked is an institutional capability to better understand the vast and diverse community of people across our network.” Howell, left, is a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and Spencer, right, is a member of the Yakama Nation. “Our job is to build a level of understanding and find commonalities on both challenges and opportunities,” says Howell of his team’s role. “I don’t know any other company that is putting this kind of effort into building tribal relationships. There are many opportunities for BNSF and the tribes to work cooperatively, and we already have some tangible examples of how this benefits all of us.”
Public-private partnership secures $10 million federal grant for Willmar, Minn. railroad wye (422.01 KB)
U.S. Sen. Al Franken, right, speaks Nov. 13 in Willmar, Minn. for the announcement of a $10 million federal TIGER grant that will help fund a $49 million railroad project in Willmar. The construction of a railroad wye will allow several trains a day to bypass Willmar’s downtown rail yard, reducing train traffic through the city and enhancing rail capacity and efficiency. Listening are, from left, are Minnesota Department of Transportation Chief of Staff Eric Davis, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg and Willmar Mayor Marv Calvin.
TIGER stands for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery. Funding for the project includes contributions from several sources, including $16 million from BNSF Railway and $15 million from the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
The celebration took place at the Kandiyohi County Historical Museum, with Great Northern No. 2523, a 1920s-era steam engine, as the backdrop. Great Northern Railway (GN) was a major predecessor line of BNSF Railway.
More details at https://lnkd.in/eD7uYND
Congratulations to Austin Western Railroad (AWRR), BNSF's 2015 Shortline Railroad of the Year! AAWRR operates from Marble Falls to Elgin, Texas and interchanges freight with BNSF at McNeil, Texas. AWRR moves approximately 49,000 carloads annually, shipping commodities such as aggregates, crushed limestone, calcium bicarbonate, lumber, beer, chemicals, plastics and paper.
Here's a video about AWRR
Hazardous materials incidents are rare, but if and when such an emergency occurs, it calls for a rapid and effective response led by expertly-trained first responders to mitigate the impacts to people, property and the environment. That’s why BNSF’s preparedness efforts include collaboration with local authorities, with hundreds of community training exercises offered annually. For instance, recent training in Sandpoint, Idaho, took place over a three-day period and focused on the procedures for containing and mitigating a hazardous materials spill. Joining BNSF in the exercise were members of Sandpoint Fire Department, Bonner County Sheriff’s Office, the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Montana Rail Link, Bonner County Emergency Management and Bonners Ferry volunteer firefighters. So far this year, BNSF has conducted 280 community hazmat training classes, with more than 8,400 first responders in attendance. The class in Sandpoint was a special exercise that included the deployment of BNSF’s water spill response equipment. The participants tested their ability to respond and recover from an oil spill into Lake Pend Oreille. From boats, the teams successfully placed more than 1,500 feet of a flexible containment boom designed to prevent oil from spreading, if an incident occurred. The BNSF team also just completed a similar hazmat training in the Columbia River Gorge area in Washington. “These types of exercises are not only about learning and preparation, they are also about building strong relationships with the men and women we’d be working with, side-by-side, in the event we had an emergency involving a BNSF train,” said Nic Winslow, manager of hazmat compliance, Safety and Technical Training. “The trust we build through these partnerships is immeasurable, and it means faster and more productive emergency response in the communities in which we operate.” This particular training is part of a larger initiative involving BNSF and several north Idaho counties and cities to develop a geographic response plan. BNSF has also been working with local governments to provide officials with information they need, along with some BNSF equipment, to effectively prepare for numerous scenarios. Following the exercise, the leadership of the Sandpoint Fire Department was appreciative and complimented the BNSF hazmat training team. Ross Lane, regional director, Public Affairs, said these exercises are just part of doing business as a valued community partner. “It’s all a part of our commitment as a company to keeping our communities and our environment safe,” said Lane. About the photo: Members of the Bonner County Marine Sheriff’s Office deploy the containment boom as a team from Olympus Technical Services, in the silver boat, observe the deployment.
BNSF Make-A-Wish train hosts 400 children and their families for a trip through the Texas countryside (150.13 KB)
BNSF Railway's Texas Division sponsored a Make-A-Wish train ride in Fort Worth, Texas on Oct. 17. The seventh annual train ride started at the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards Station. The train took more than 400 kids and their families for a three-hour trip through the North Texas countryside. Volunteers, clowns, face painters, balloon artists, storytellers and business partners helped make the trip a success. BNSF also presented a $5,000 donation to The Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas to help grant wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
BNSF honored the city of Gallup, N.M. in a ceremony on Nov. 2 with its BNSF Railway Heritage Community Award. The award honors communities around BNSF’s 32,500-mile rail network that embrace their past, present and future ties to freight rail. A reception and dinner were held aboard BNSF business cars brought to the Gallup Rail Yard for the occasion. Mayor Jackie McKinney accepted the award on behalf of the city. McKinney was joined by elected officials as well as representatives from area businesses and non-profit organizations. Andrew Johnsen, assistant vice president, community affairs, presented the award and expressed BNSF’s appreciation to the citizens, staff and leadership of Gallup and McKinley County. “BNSF Railway and Gallup have a shared history -- a history of seeking collaboration to grow jobs and the economy, solve problems together and strengthen our role as a good neighbor,” Johnsen said. As part of the recognition, donations were presented from the BNSF Railway Foundation to three area non-profit organizations. BNSF and Gallup have ties dating back to 19th century. Read the full story at the Friends of BNSF website. In the photo: Andrew Johnsen, assistant vice president, Community Affairs, talks with Jackie McKinney, mayor of Gallup, N.M. aboard a BNSF business car after presenting him with a model locomotive.
An estimated 1,300 people gathered in downtown Fort Worth, Texas on Sept. 7 to express their support and gratitude for law enforcement officers. The event, Main Street Backs the Blue, was attended by U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Fort Worth City Council members and law enforcement officials from around the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. BNSF employee Nannette Samuelson and local bank employee Jason Baldwin co-directed the event, putting it together in just one week. Samuelson, at center foreground of photo, said she was inspired to take action after the murder of Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth the week before. She contacted the Fort Worth Police Officers Association and they put her in touch with Baldwin, who had also expressed a desire to do something to support police officers. “I thought it was important that the community do something to show we appreciate police officers for putting their lives on the line for us every day,” Samuelson said. She says there are plans to make the rally an annual event. Photo: Rally attendees gather for a selfie. Samuelson is at center foreground. Co-organizer Baldwin is man with beard at right of center foreground. Right of Baldwin are Texas State Rep. Jason Villalba and Fort Worth Assistant Police Chief Ken Dean. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, in sunglasses, is right of Samuelson. Behind her is Sgt. Rick Van Houten, president of the Fort Worth Police Officers Association. Right of Price is Fort Worth City Councilmember Kelly Allen Gray, followed by Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson. U.S. Rep Kay Granger is left of center foreground, in white. Taking the photo is Fort Worth Police Officer Buddy Calzada, whose non-profit organization Fort Worth Metro donated the stage for the event. Photo courtesy Buddy Calzada.
Chicago-area police officers, BNSF Railway and Metra spend day tracking crossing safety violators (6.47 MB)
Ninety-three police officers from 18 law enforcement agencies participated in an “Officer on the Train” event with BNSF Railway and Metra in the Chicago area on Wednesday, Aug. 19. Officers riding on a passenger train observed rail crossing safety violations and communicated with other officers waiting on the ground to respond. At least 16 citations and more than 40 warnings were issued to motorists and pedestrians. Officers and volunteers handed out more than 3,600 safety brochures to passengers. Also, participating officers were fortunately in the right place at the right time and were able to save the life of a person who attempted to commit suicide on the tracks.
BNSF hosts similar events in communities around its network to raise public awareness about grade crossing safety and the dangers of ignoring crossing signals. According to Operation Lifesaver, about every three hours a person or vehicle is hit by a train. Be careful around railroad crossings! For more information, visit
BNSF’s social media presence just got a little bigger with the addition of an official Instagram account. The smartphone app lets individuals and companies easily share their favorite photographs with followers. Instagram is most popular with 18- to 29-year-olds, so it will complement BNSF’s other social media channels like Facebook and Twitter that are popular with other age groups. “We’ll use Instagram to tell BNSF’s story in a visual way to a new audience,” said Mike Trevino, assistant vice president, external communications. “We’ll describe our business through photographs to prospective customers, job seekers and residents in the communities where we operate.” The account is @bnsfrailway. If you’re an Instagram user, be sure to follow! If you’re curious and would like to try it out, Instagram is available for free download on iPhone, Android and Windows smartphones.
BNSF Railway Special treats employees, family members to train rides in Washington, Montana (615.86 KB)
The 2015 BNSF Railway Special concluded its three-week tour in Great Falls, Mont. on July 15. The annual employee appreciation train gave thousands of BNSF employees, family members and friends the opportunity to enjoy the scenery of the Pacific Northwest and Montana. By the time the last train pulled into the station, the Special had treated 8,651 passengers to a fun-filled ride. This year's Special ran for 5,500 miles, visiting 12 communities where BNSF operates. The BNSF Special trips serve as a “thank you” to BNSF employees for their hard work throughout the year. This year, the Special also included trips for first responders, military personnel and their families, and Boys and Girls Clubs along the route. Cities visited were: Everett, Seattle, Auburn, Vancouver, Pasco and Spokane, Wash.; and Whitefish, Glasgow, Havre and Great Falls, Mont.