Managing railroad travel over tens of thousands of miles of tracks


BNSF Railway is one of North America’s leading freight transportation companies operating on 32,500 route miles of track in 28 states and three Canadian provinces. BNSF is one of the top transporters of consumer goods, grain and agricultural products, low-sulfur coal, and industrial goods such as petroleum, chemicals, housing materials, food and beverages. As one of the most efficient railroads in the industry, BNSF and its employees work continuously to improve the value of the safety, service, energy, and environmental benefits provided to the customers and the communities it serves.

In just 25 years – a relatively short time in the company’s 160-year history – the O.R. and advanced analytics program at BNSF has grown rapidly to transform how the company approaches problem solving. A centralized team of operations research professionals provides invaluable guidance to the company’s leadership for high-capital decisions, using a wide range of O.R. and analytic methods including advanced modeling, statistical analysis, machine learning, image analytics, algorithm design, and optimization techniques.

BNSF’s O.R. and advanced analytics team drives better decision making in every aspect involved in the management of its 32,500-mile rail network, including train routing, crew scheduling, train building, fleet sizing, train dispatching, locomotive fueling and inspections, track maintenance and equipment distribution for a savings of more than $110 million annually. 

“In addition to providing essential guidance on capital intensive strategic decisions made at BNSF, our O.R. and advanced analytics team provides advisory tools and insights to almost every department, including mechanical, engineering, marketing, transportation and service design,” said Dave Freeman, Executive Vice President of Operations, BNSF Railway. 

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