Financially on track

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Charles Lee, bottom left, and Donny Nunez, bottom right, work on a split-point switch near the Prince Street bridge. BNSF replaced 12,000 ties between Cook’s Diner and Cannon Air Force Base in the end of 2007, according to BNSF maintenance manager Victor

By Sarah Meyer: CNJ staff writer

BNSF Railway is doing well even as the national economy is stumbling.

The company reported record earnings per share, revenues and operating income for the fourth quarter of 2007, and record annual revenues for five consecutive years despite a soft economy, Matthew K. Rose, BNSF chairman, president and corporate executive officer, said in a news release.

The company employs 525 people based in Clovis and 90 to 100 trains pass through the city daily, said Joe Faust, spokesperson for BNSF.

The company expects to maintain employment and operating levels through 2008, Faust said.

BNSF spends about $2 billion a year on maintanence, which includes projects such as replacing cross-ties between Texico and Belen, part of the Southern Transcon section of the railway, according to company spokesperson Pat Hiatte. BNSF Railway is nearly finished laying a second main track along the 2,200 miles of the Southern Transcon section.

For 2007, BNSF operating revenues reached a record $15.8 billion, a 5 percent increase over 2006, according to a news release. Operating income, at $3.49 billion, decreased slightly from 2006.

Freight revenues for the quarter increased $352 million or 9 percent to an all-time quarterly record $4.12 billion, compared to $3.77 billion the previous year, according to a news release.

The increased revenue is due to “improved yield,” or “getting paid more for what we haul and hauling more,” said Pat Hiatte.

Increased revenues were seen in industrial, consumer and agricultural products, and in coal, Hiatte said.

The increase in agricultural products revenue was attributed to more wheat, ethanol, soybeans and fertilizer, according to the news release.

The railroad faced increased fuel expenses in the fourth quarter, which contributed to higher operating expenses.

Hiatte attributes the railroad’s success to an increasingly global nature of the marketplace for everything.