SOURCE: BNSF Railway Company

January 08, 2007 10:00 ET

FRA Approves BNSF's Product Safety Plan to Implement Electronic Train Management System

FORT WORTH, TX and WASHINGTON, DC -- (MARKET WIRE) -- January 8, 2007 -- The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) today announced FRA's approval of BNSF's Product Safety Plan (PSP) to allow BNSF to begin implementing the Electronic Train Management System (ETMS) on portions of its network.

ETMS works as a safety overlay, through a train control program that passes critical train movement information, such as movement authorities, speed restrictions and switch position, to a digital communications network that displays the information on a computer screen inside the locomotive cab. The onboard computer, with location information provided via the Global Positioning System (GPS), will warn and then automatically initiate braking action if the crew fails to respond appropriately to the warnings. ETMS operates with existing train control signal systems and operating rules as the primary means of maintaining train separation.

In commenting on the PSP approval, FRA Administrator Joseph R. Boardman said, "This is a major achievement that marks the beginning of a new era of rail safety."

Matthew K. Rose, BNSF Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, said that "This is a significant safety milestone for the rail industry. ETMS is the first approved automatic control system that prevents train collisions and over-speed accidents, meeting the criteria of one of the National Transportation Safety Board's most wanted list."

Rose added that "The ETMS pilot project that we have operated on our Beardstown subdivision in Illinois since October 2004, in full cooperation with FRA, was instrumental in proving the value and safety of this technology."

In 2003, FRA granted a waiver allowing BNSF and Wabtec Corporation to move forward with a pilot project to operate ETMS-equipped test trains between Beardstown and Centralia, Ill. Wabtec installed and tested ETMS on 50 BNSF locomotives that operated along the 135-mile corridor. Since October 2004, more than 2,000 revenue service train trips have been operated with these ETMS-equipped locomotives. During this pilot testing, ETMS passed every test.

In May 2006, BNSF received permission from FRA to test ETMS on a 300-mile corridor between Arkansas City, Kan., and Fort Worth. In addition to BNSF trains, Union Pacific Railroad freight and Amtrak passenger trains operate over parts of that route. Implementation is scheduled to begin in the second quarter of 2007. FRA's approval of BNSF's PSP came with some conditions, primarily related to record keeping, operations testing and reporting. Once these conditions are met, BNSF will be in position to begin implementation of ETMS to other areas of its network.

A subsidiary of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation (NYSE: BNI), BNSF Railway Company operates one of the largest North American rail networks, with about 32,000 route miles in 28 states and two Canadian provinces. BNSF is among the world's top transporters of intermodal traffic, moves more grain than any other American railroad, carries the components of many of the products we depend on daily, and hauls enough low-sulphur coal to generate about ten percent of the electricity produced in the United States. BNSF is an industry leader in Web-enabling a variety of customer transactions at

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Richard Russack
    (817) 867-6425