BNSF names Montana Rail Link 2013 Shortline of the Year

Written by Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor

BNSF selected Montana Rail Link, Inc. (MRL) as its 2013 Shortline of the Year for its significant growth and continued emphasis on a strong safety record. In addition, Bighorn Divide & Wyoming Railroad (BDW) won the Special Recognition Award. The awards were presented during the annual BNSF Shortline Conference on October 21 in Irving, Texas.

 MRL was honored earlier this year by Railway Age as it’s 2013 Regional Railroad of the Year.

As a critical part of the BNSF route network, MRL connects with BNSF mainlines at Huntley, Mont., and Sandpoint, Idaho. MRL has been handling record volumes of “overhead” traffic in 2013 through a 2012 agreement that ensures adequate capacity on the MRL route to meet future demand.

“MRL is an important BNSF business partner committed to enhance service to customers by focusing on network and terminal velocity initiatives, responding to changes in traffic volume and investing in infrastructure while always emphasizing the safety of employees,” said Dean Wise, vice president of network strategy for BNSF.

In Montana, Idaho and Washington, MRL operates a 957-mile rail system. Across the tri-state region, it serves three oil refineries, an electric utility, a large woodchip facility, intermodal and automotive terminals and producers of agriculture, talc, finished lumber, particleboard lime and cement.

“Our vision is to be the ‘Best of the Best’ in safety, customer satisfaction and ingenuity,” said Tom Walsh, MRL president. “On behalf of our nearly 1,100 employees, we are honored to receive this prestigious award from our valued partner, BNSF.”

BNSF selected BDW for the Special Recognition Award because of its commitment to growth, customer service and efficiency. BDW interchanges with BNSF at Bonneville and Bishop, Wyo., and has provided great customer service and aggressively invested in capacity for new customers. BDW has grown at an annual growth rate of 14 percent over the past 10 years, nearly quadrupling its volume since 2003.

BNSF created the awards to honor shortlines that exceed the railway’s expectations for innovation, determination, vision and entrepreneurial spirit.

Categories: Class 1, OFF Track Maintenance, Shortline/Regional