Rail Expansion Will Mean More Coal Sold

By The Associated Press

Mar 28, 2004 -- Douglas, Wyo. (AP) – By next year, more trains loaded with Wyoming coal will be leaving the Powder River Basin due to a track expansion project.

Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe are constructing a 14.1 mile segment to connect two sections of a third track, at a cost of $38 million.

“The investment is for efficiency,” BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas told the Douglas Budget.

The continuous triple track will allow BNSF to operate 35-40 coal trains per day in and out of the basin, up from 25–30 now.

UP, which sends about 64 trains a day in and out of the basin, will also greatly enhance its capacity, spokesman John Bromley said.

The project will be completed in 2005. This year’s work will focus on grading, reconstructing Shawnee Junction and constructing signal bridges – at a cost of $10 million. Laying of the track will be done next year.

Union Pacific, based in Omaha, Neb., and Burlington Northern, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, said the tracks are jointly footing the bill, Melonas said.