BNSF Railroad Parks Thousands Of Rail Cars… Economic Slump Blamed…

BNSF Railway Co., the nation’s top hauler of container rail freight, is parking miles of railcars in Montana and elsewhere because there isn’t enough freight to keep them rolling.

BNSF CarsThe rail cars sit near the Missouri River and the residential community of Craig, Mont. on Feb. 15, 2008. BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas says they have parked the cars on the unused line, between Great Falls and Helena, Montana, because freight demand has slowed and the cars are not needed at this time. Seasonal car storage is common, he said, but the number of cars now idle is exceptional.

They stretch as far as Sandee Cardinal can see when she stands outside her home on the river’s west bank between Helena and Great Falls.

“What is that but a symbol of how America is down in the dumps right now?” Cardinal asked as she gazed at the cars that haven’t moved for about three months.


One of the nation’s leading trucking companies, Schneider National in Green Bay, Wis., says it believes a freight recession began about 20 months ago, well before signs of a downturn closed in on consumers.

‘We have been in a freight recession longer than people have been expressing deep concern about the economy,’ said Bill Matheson, Schneider’s president for intermodal transportation.

Trucking companies are in a unique position. They often compete with railroads for long haul contracts, while also carrying rail freight from the nearest railhead to its final destination.

Schneider is not parking trucks, but neither is it buying new ones to the usual extent, Matheson said.

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