BNSF In The Community | Environment | Green Technology

Green Technology

At BNSF, we know our communities and customers need the value and efficiency of our railroad more than ever before. That is why we utilize a number of sustainable technologies to lessen our operations’ environmental impact.



Utilizing Wide Span Electric Cranes

We use wide span electric cranes to further reduce our emissions. BNSF was the first U.S. rail carrier to use these cranes, which produce zero emissions on-site and significantly reduce the number of trucks needed to move containers in our intermodal facilities.

These cranes are now in use at BNSF intermodal facilities in Chicago, Kansas City, Memphis and Seattle.

Using Automated Gates

We use automated gates to cut truck idling time and emissions. More than 85 percent of the freight that comes through BNSF’s intermodal facilities goes through an automated gate.

These gates use digital cameras to record images of units entering and exiting the facility. Thanks to the efficiency created by the gates, truck idling time and their associated air emissions have been cut by 50 percent at each facility equipped with this technology.

Operating Energy-Efficient Locomotives

BNSF has upgraded the majority of our locomotive fleet to more energy efficient and cleaner technologies over the last decade. Examples include the addition of locomotive energy management systems that help optimize throttle and brake use as well as the installation of automatic start/stop devices on the majority of our locomotives to prevent unnecessary idling. These technologies help us to increase fuel efficiency and decrease CO2 and particulate emissions.

Testing Future Technologies

We are testing emissions-reducing technologies in and around our rail yards. For example, BNSF along with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District was awarded a $22.6 million grant from the California Air Resource Board. As part of the program, BNSF is developing and testing a battery-electric locomotive. This innovative locomotive will be tested while paired with diesel locomotives to power a freight train traveling from Stockton to Barstow, Calif.

The battery-electric locomotive is expected to store 2,400 kilowatt-hours of power.

In addition, BNSF is also piloting:

  • hybrid rubber tire gantry cranes at our Stockton and San Bernardino Intermodal facilities
  • an all-electric side loader at the San Bernardino Intermodal Facility
  • and an all-electric drayage truck in San Bernardino