About BNSF - Frequently Asked Questions - BNSF

Frequently Asked Questions

Reporting Emergencies

How do I report trespassers or other suspicious behavior on BNSF property?

To report suspicious behavior, call BNSF's Resource Operations Command Center at 800-832-5452 or your local police department.

BNSF has an internal police team that works closely with local, state and federal law enforcement on safety and security issues involving the railroad.

What should I do if hazardous materials are released?

If there is a hazardous materials release on the track or near a rail facility, local authorities will advise the public if any special measures are necessary. If you personally see what you believe to be a hazardous materials release, first move to a safe location.

Then you should notify BNSF's Resource Operations Command Center or local police as soon as possible. The BNSF emergency number is 800-832-5452.

Rail Crossing Safety and Train Horns

How do I report malfunctioning crossing gates and lights or a vehicle stalled at a crossing?

You should call BNSF's emergency number at 800-832-5452 to report any railroad emergency, including the false activation of gates and lights. This number will connect you directly to BNSF's Resource Operations Command Center, which is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If your vehicle has stalled on a crossing, exit the vehicle immediately, move away from the track and call BNSF's emergency number at 800-832-5452 to report the stalled vehicle.

What can be done to reduce the time I have to wait for a train to go through a crossing?

BNSF trains operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A wide range of factors can cause our trains’ trip schedules to change. Those conditions may be related to equipment, track or weather events. As a result of those changing conditions and for security reasons, freight train schedules are not released to the public.

Nonetheless, at BNSF we do our best to limit the amount of time any crossing is blocked on a mainline track. Our business and our customers depend on BNSF to keep our trains moving. When our trains experience a situation that forces them to stop BNSF works to correct or resolve the situation as quickly as possible to resume the safe movement of trains.

What is the process for getting gates and lights installed at rail crossings?

Most public rail crossings are equipped with passive rail crossing warning signs, such as crossbucks, yield signs, stop signs and pavement markings. Any change from passive warning devices to active warning devices is determined by individual state agencies and the appropriate road authorities, which typically involves the state’s department of transportation. Each state determines if it is appropriate to equip public rail crossings with active warning devices, such as gates and flashing lights.

Each state makes a determination on whether to use state or federal safety funds to help pay for the appropriate warning devices based upon the state's priority list of crossings for improvement. Once the location for a warning device is determined, the state reviews and approves the cost and enters into an agreement with the railroad to install the specified signals.

If you believe a railroad crossing near you is a good candidate for upgrading from a passive warning sign to an active warning, please contact your state’s department of transportation. BNSF works cooperatively with the states on our network to install active warning devices on the public crossings that the state has determined are in need of such upgrades.

When is the train crew required to sound the horn, and how does a community establish a quiet zone?

Train horns save lives. The locomotive engineer has the responsibility and the discretion to sound the horn at specified times, or when a safety hazard is perceived. Too many Americans are killed each year while ignoring signals at grade crossings or while trespassing on railroad tracks. For background information about this problem, please visit the Operation Lifesaver website at www.oli.org.

Federal law requires the train crew when approaching a road crossing to sound the horn at all public crossings for the protection and safety of motorists and pedestrians regardless of whether crossings with gates and lights are present. Only crossings that have met Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) criteria for a Quiet Zone do not require the horn to be blown.

Train crews may also sound their horns when there is a vehicle, person or animal on or near the track and the crew determines it is appropriate to provide warning. Crews may also sound their train horn when there are track or construction workers within 25 feet of a live track, or when gates and lights at the crossing are not functioning properly.

The federal rule governing whistle use requires the train horns to blow at a sound level of at least 96 decibels. However, some horns may blow as loud as 110 decibels. A train crew can be fined by the FRA for not sounding the horn enough. BNSF management and the FRA spot check train crews for compliance with the horn rule without the train crews’ knowledge.

One solution to reduce the use of train horns is for a community to apply for FRA approval for a Quiet Zone. A Quiet Zone is a stretch of track where the railroad is not required to automatically blow the horn at each crossing except in emergencies, such as someone on the track, workers within 25 feet of the track etc. Communities can make a number of investments in additional grade crossing safety at crossings in order to qualify for a Quiet Zone.

Only the FRA can grant a Quiet Zone. The process starts with your community leaders. Community leaders who have questions about BNSF's role in the quiet zone process can e-mail French Thompson BNSF's director, Public Projects.

Another way to reduce train horn noise is to close a crossing. When most communities built roads across rail lines, they had the option of building an overpass or underpass over, or under, the track. Most chose the less expensive option, which was to build the road at grade level with the tracks. BNSF has a program to work with communities to close crossings.

Another option is to build more overpasses so that motorists can safely cross over or under the track without regard for when trains operate. That's how the federal highway system was built -- not only does it not have a single traffic light on it, there is also not a single at-grade rail crossing. Trains and motor vehicles safely pass over and under each other without danger of collision or the need to blow a horn.

Who pays to upgrade grade-level crossings to overpasses or underpasses?

The decisions to build streets or highways at grade-level with the tracks were not made by the railroads but by the owners of the roadways crossing the track at any given location. In most cases that is a city or county.

When most communities built roads across rail lines, they had the option of building an overpass or underpass over, or under, the track. Most chose the less expensive option, which was to build the road at grade level with the tracks. Unfortunately, that leaves motorists in potential conflict with trains. 

One of the great benefits of the federal interstate system is that there is not a single at-grade rail crossing on it. We are very much in favor of cities, counties and states pursuing similar improvements in public mobility for their roads and highways.

BNSF has a program to help eliminate crossings on our track, which actually pays communities to close crossings. Communities are free to use those dollars as they see fit.

In addition, in cases where construction of an overpass or underpass results in the closure of a crossing with gates and lights on it, the railroad involved is obligated by the federal government to pay for a portion (5 percent) of the construction of that overpass or underpass.

However, the decision to pursue such projects must be made by the owner of the road involved, not the railroad. 

How do I report a rough railroad crossing?

You can report a crossing in need of maintenance or repair to BNSF through our Contact Us form. Please provide details of the issue and the location including street, city and state.

Who do I contact about the condition of vegetation and use of pesticides along railroad tracks?

You can report vegetation conditions or request information about pesticide use through our Contact Us form. Our Community Affairs team will direct your report to BNSF's Engineering Department, which is responsible for vegetation control.

Work at BNSF

Where can I learn more about employment opportunities and internships at BNSF?

You can find more information about potential careers and internships at BNSF, including a list of current openings, under the Work at BNSF tab on BNSF's website.

You can also visit our careers page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bnsfcareers.

I didn't get the email I was supposed to get as part of the hiring process.

Please check your junk mail folder and make sure your email service is set up to allow emails from BNSF into your inbox.

You can email staff.recruiter1@bnsf.com and request assistance if you still don’t locate the message.

Products Shipped by Rail

What types of products are shipped by rail?

BNSF helps connect freight shippers and consumers in the global marketplace. For more than 160 years, BNSF has played a vital role in building and serving the nation's economy by delivering many of the products we use every day:

  • grain and other ingredients to produce the foods we eat,
  • raw materials to build our homes and operate our businesses,
  • finished electronics, clothing and consumer goods we use every day,
  • low-sulfur coal used to generate more than 10 percent of the nation's electricity.

Operating one of America's largest railroad networks, BNSF connects the communities we serve to the rest of the country and the world. Learn more about what you can ship by rail.

Do you move hazardous materials in my community?

Railroads are required by federal law to move hazardous materials. Most of these include products used by consumers every day such as paint, batteries, alcohol-containing products such as hand sanitizer and insect repellent, and household cleaning products.

The hazardous materials of greatest concern to emergency officials represent only about 0.3 percent of all rail shipments. BNSF helps train emergency responders across our system to ensure they are prepared to protect the public should such an emergency occur.

BNSF also has 160 emergency response personnel stationed around our network who are trained, equipped and prepared to monitor and respond to any emergency situation involving hazardous materials. More importantly, BNSF invests significant capital and effort working with our customers, employees and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to reduce the likelihood of such incidents.

 

Permits/Real Estate

How do I obtain a permit?

To better facilitate the needs of prospective occupants of its railroad system, BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) has partnered with Jones Lang LaSalle Brokerage, Inc. (JLL), a company committed to providing professional Real Estate Services.

This web site is intended to provide you with all the information you should need to apply for a permit to access BNSF's property through JLL. You can find your state’s representative here.

Instructions and Application Decription
Pipeline or Wire Line

Installation of a pipeline for water, natural gas, sewage, oil or petroleum, etc. Electric supply line for voltage, circuits or electricity. Communication Line for fiber optic, phone or CATV. Example

Temporary Occupancy

Geotechnical study of the soil, survey, inspection or construction access. Laying cable along tracks or on property to test for seismic activity. Example

Private Crossing

Private crossing for vehicular/ pedestrian/ bicycle access over BNSF tracks. Example

Roadway Surfacing/Resurfacing

Surface/resurface/overlay existing road (not due to road widening). Example

General License

Culvert, drainage ditch or storm water fall-out. Encroachments, ex. fence. Example

House or Structure Crossing 

Low-clearance vehicles and those in excess of state DOT height/weight standards. Ex. houses, boilers or transformers. Example

Assignment

Selling property or a name change. Example

Environmental Soil sample or topographical survey for contamination, installation of monitoring wells. Example

How do I know if a certain parcel of land is BNSF property?

You can check with the local tax assessor or courthouse records.

For informational purposes Railroad maps are available to assist with your project references.

These maps provide the width of the railroad corridor as well as other information.

To obtain a copy of a map, please contact BNSFMaps@bartwest.com. You will be contacted regarding payment.

How long does it take to get a land access permit from BNSF?

On average, it takes four weeks for a permit to be sent to you for your execution if there are no engineering issues or changes involved.

Once I return the executed permit to you, how long will it be before I can perform the work?

If the executed agreement is returned with all required fees and insurance you should receive a fully executed agreement from Jones Lang LaSalle Brokerage, Inc. in about a week. Also, before entering the property, you must give at least 10 days advance notice to the appropriate BNSF Railway Roadmaster.

If I am applying for more than one (1) permit at a time, what is the processing fee?

There is an $800 processing fee for each application.

What are the specifications for installations on BNSF property?

Please see the Utility Accommodation Manual regarding standard design specifications.

If I need to perform maintenance or repair to an existing crossing/line, what do I need to do?

If you have an existing permit with BNSF Railway Company and are performing maintenance or repair work, you must contact the BNSF Roadmaster and have a copy of your permit before entering BNSF property.

The Roadmaster's contact information is located on your permit. If you are unable to locate the contact information you may contact the respective JLL Manager.

How do I reach BNSF's Corporate Real Estate team?

2301 Lou Menk Drive,
GOB-3W, Fort Worth, TX
76131-2830

Land Revenue Management Contacts

NameContact

Director
Land Revenue Management & Property Records, Oil & Gas, Mineral Rights and Water Rights, Critical Facilities and Data Center
Tel: 817-352-6461

Sr. Manager, Customer Projects
Land & Track Agreements, Leases
Tel: 817-352-6466

Asst. Manager, Real Estate
Tel: 817-352-3447

Project Analyst
Real Estate Transaction Mgmt.
Railroad Mortgage Releases and Permits
Tel: 817-352-6501

Acquisition & Development Contacts

NameContact

Director Acquisitions
Tel: 817-352-2387

Senior Manager Real Estate
Tel: 817-352-6464

Senior Manager Real Estate
Tel: 817-352-6459

Sr. Analyst Property & Facility Management
Corporate Leases and
Real Estate Transaction Mgmt.
Tel: 817-352-6462

Project Analyst
Tel: 817-352-6463

Corporate Facilities Management Contacts

NameContact

Director
Corporate Facilities and Field Facilities
Tel: 817-352-4891

Sr. Manager Corporate Program
Campus Headquarters
Tel: 817-352-6424

Sr. Manager of Facilities
Field Facilities Management
Tel: 817-352-6412

 

NameContact

AVP Facilities & Property Management
Corporate Real Estate Development
Tel: 817-352-6470

BNSF History

Where can I learn more about railroad history?

You can find more information about BNSF and its predecessor railroads on the Our Railroad page.

Our Railroad in our Company History. There you will find historical summaries of BNSF's major predecessor railroads as well as links to other organizations that serve as useful resources. We also provide an online booklet containing a detailed history of our six major predecessors.

Additionally, you can join the Friends of BNSF website at www.friendsofbnsf.com, which contains numerous historical photos and articles.

What is the Friends of BNSF program?

Friends of BNSF is a community website for people who have an interest in or have a connection to BNSF or its predecessor companies.

It was launched in September 2011 and it has more than 43,000 registered members. The site features historical articles and photos, a gallery of members' submitted train photos, and company updates and background information.  

Friends of BNSF members can also opt in to receive occasional email newsletters. For more information and to join, please visit the Friends of BNSF website.

Why doesn't BNSF have a "heritage fleet" of locomotives in historic color schemes?

BNSF is proud of its heritage and its historic role in building the U.S. economy.
BNSF has chosen to celebrate its heritage in other ways, including BNSF Railway Foundation grants to support historic preservation activities, support of rail-related community events like National Train Day, railcars marked with the logos of some of our predecessor lines, and the Friends of BNSF project.

BNSF Railway Foundation

What is the purpose of the BNSF Railway Foundation?

The BNSF Railway Foundation primarily supports non-profits in communities located on our 32,500-mile rail network. 

The Foundation has supported and helped improve quality of life for thousands of communities across the 28 states through which BNSF operates, and where BNSF employees live, work and volunteer.

Indeed, as the corporation's assets have grown, the Foundation's giving has expanded to help more and more communities.
For more information, please visit www.bnsffoundation.org.

How do I apply for a grant from the BNSF Railway Foundation?

Thanks for your interest in the BNSF Railway Foundation.

We are able to consider your request only if your organization has obtained 501(c)3 status under the Internal Revenue Code; or your organization is a division of local government; or your organization is a non-profit school or university. 

Please visit our online application form.

Other

Can BNSF help me ship my personal automobile or other personal effects?

BNSF does not offer one-time shipment services for items that will not fill an entire railcar or 40-foot container. To use rail for these types of shipments, you can contact one of the many transloaders available across our network using our Transloader Directory, or our sister company BNSF Logistics.

What is BNSF's position on photography of railroad operations?

BNSF appreciates its railfan photographers and thanks them for their interest in BNSF and its trains. For safety reasons, BNSF can’t grant access to its property for photography purposes. Photography of BNSF operations must be done from a safe location outside of railroad property.

Encounters between BNSF police and photographers are generally casual in nature and not documented unless there is a criminal violation or circumstance that would warrant further law enforcement action or enforcement. BNSF Police reinforce guidance on this issue to officers in the field so that continues to be common practice. 

We value the support the rail community provides to our officers and rely on their continuing understanding that the intent of any contact by police is part an effort to further the safety of our railway and the communities where we operate.

Does BNSF sell or donate cabooses?

We seldom have cabooses available for sale or donation. Most cabooses were donated or sold years ago. We have a long waiting list of requests for cabooses from communities across our network.

Requests sent in through our Contact Us form will be added to that waiting list.

A more likely way to secure an old passenger car or caboose would be to explore the secondary market for such equipment.

Where can I purchase BNSF and predecessor-branded logo merchandise?

You can visit the BNSF Store website at www.bnsfstore.com.

Who do I contact if I have questions not listed above?

You can contact the community relations contact listed for your state. The list of contacts can be found in the News and Media section.