Fort Worth

BNSF Railway back on track after weekend of nasty weather

Intermodal containers were strewn across the ground after being blown off a train car just north of Haslet on Sunday.
Intermodal containers were strewn across the ground after being blown off a train car just north of Haslet on Sunday. Star-Telegram

BNSF Railway has reopened its tracks north of Fort Worth after multiple storm-related incidents during the weekend, the company’s executives say.

“Railroading is an outdoor sport, but we should also say these storms have over the last couple of weeks been really terrific in terms of damage,” said Matt Rose, BNSF executive chairman. “Certainly it’s a dangerous business. We’ve weathered it, so to speak, and we’ll get repaired and hopefully see sunnier skies.”

BNSF, which is based in Fort Worth, was hit by a triple-whammy of unfortunate events during the past several days.

On Sunday, a burst of high winds knocked 38 empty intermodal containers off a freight train in Haslet, blocking one of the railroad’s main north-south lines just outside Fort Worth for much of the day. That line was reopened by early Monday.

Early Friday morning, 17 cars of a Fort Worth-bound BNSF freight train derailed in Valley View north of Denton, as flood waters washed out the tracks over Spring Creek, just east of Interstate 35. Four BNSF employees were treated and released at a Denton hospital.

Also Friday, off-duty BNSF employee Brandon Henegar, 36, of Gainesville, was killed after his car apparently was washed away by flood waters, not far from the derailment site.

BNSF hasn’t finished adding up the financial damage associated with the weather-related incidents, but it won’t be chump change.

“We had multiple locomotives that were damaged,” said Carl Ice, BNSF president and chief executive officer.

Ice also noted that the shipments damaged and destroyed in the Friday derailment were worth a lot more than typical commodities.

“We had trains in our consumer products unit, so it was high-value cargo, and a number of the containers were destroyed,” Ice said.

But Ice pledged that BNSF would do everything in its power to get all its shipments replaced and delivered on schedule in the next couple of days.

Ice spoke while leading Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price on a tour of a new 600-employee, 164,000-square-foot office building at the railroad’s far north Fort Worth campus on Western Center Boulevard.

BNSF now has room for about 4,400 employees in its Fort Worth offices. Overall, the company employs about 48,000 people and manages more than 32,000 miles of railroad track, mostly west of the Mississippi River.

This report includes information from the Star-Telegram archives.

Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796

Twitter: @gdickson

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