OREANDA-NEWS. BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) announced that its 2015 capital program for its operations in Illinois will be an estimated USD 339 million for rail capacity improvement projects and maintenance. Unlike other modes of freight transportation, U.S. railroads own and maintain their own networks. To ensure BNSF's network operates at optimal efficiency, each year the company allocates capital for infrastructure and expansion projects that will enable it to serve the growing needs of customers from a broad cross section of the economy.

"This year's substantial investments in Illinois are a clear reflection of how important our operations in the state are to our overall network and our unwavering commitment to always operating safely - for our people and the communities in which we operate," said Jason Jenkins, BNSF general manager operations Chicago Division. "We know our customers are competing in a fast-paced, global economy where a smooth, efficient supply chain can be the difference between winning and losing in the marketplace. This year's planned expansion and maintenance projects will help give BNSF the capacity flexibility it needs to support our customers' growing demands and connect Illinois products to key markets."

BNSF's 2015 capital projects in Illinois include:
* Starting the grading for the construction of two double track segments from Burk to Savanna and Aurora to Sugar Grove totaling 12 miles to be completed in 2016.
* Installing Centralized Traffic Control (CTC) signaling projects along the Aurora and Beardstown subdivisions. A CTC system helps manage rail traffic improving train flows and efficiency.
* Extending the sidings at Atwater, Concord, Jacksonville, Stewart and Vermont enabling trains on the same line to pass resulting in better train capacity.
* Replacing a bridge in Metropolis.
* Extending tracks in Zearing to facilitate increasing interchange volumes.
* Performing additional work related to the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) program. This year BNSF will focus on connecting the Chicago Subdivision at Western Avenue with the Chillicothe Subdivision at Ash Street. CREATE is a multiyear project designed to increase the efficiency of passenger and freight rail infrastructure in the Chicago area. It is a partnership between The U.S. Department of Transportation, the State of Illinois, City of Chicago, Metra, Amtrak, and the nation's freight railroads.
* Expanding railcar loading/unloading tracks, support tracks, and parking at the Logistics Park Chicago intermodal and automotive facilities (located in Elwood), as well as, at the Willow Springs Intermodal Facility.

Continuous maintenance of BNSF's infrastructure ensures an optimized, safe and reliable network. Maintaining the railroad is important for keeping it in optimal condition and helps limit the need for unscheduled service outages that can slow down the rail network and reduce capacity. BNSF's maintenance program in Illinois will include 1,099 miles of track surfacing and undercutting work, the replacement of 52 miles of rail and close to 93,000 ties, as well as signal upgrades for federally mandated positive train control (PTC).

The planned capital investments in Illinois are part of BNSF's record 2015 capital commitment of USD 6 billion, which was announced last November and is the company's largest planned capital expenditure in its history. The investments include USD 2.9 billion to replace and maintain core network and related assets, nearly USD 1.5 billion on expansion and efficiency projects, USD 200 million for continued implementation of PTC and USD 1.4 billion for locomotives, freight cars and other equipment acquisitions.