The BNSF Railway (AAR reporting marks BNSF) headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, is one of the four remaining transcontinental railroads and one of the largest railroad networks in North America. Only the Union Pacific Railroad is larger in size. With globalization, the transcontinental railroads are a key component in the containerization of trade from the Pacific Rim. The BNSF Railway moves more intermodal freight traffic than any other rail system in the world.
It was formed December 31, 1996, as the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway when the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway was merged into the Burlington Northern Railroad. In 1999 the BNSF Railway and the Canadian National Railway announced their intention to merge and form a new corporation entitled the North American Railways to be headquartered in Montreal, Canada. The United States' Surface Transportation Board (STB) placed a 15-month moratorium on all rail mergers, which ended this merger. On January 24, 2005, the railroad's name was officially changed to BNSF Railway.
The BNSF Railway is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation, the holding company formed by the September 22, 1995 merger of Burlington Northern, Incorporated and the Santa Fe Pacific Corporation. According to corporate press releases, the BNSF Railway is among the top transporters of intermodal freight in North America. It moves more grain than any other American railroad. It also hauls enough coal to generate roughly 10% of the electricity produced in the United States. The company's northern route completes the high-speed link from the western to eastern United States.
This was the route of the Great Northern Railway's Silk Extras in the 1920s. They had priority over all other trains, stopping only for refueling and crew changes. These trains transported silk to the east from ships arriving in the Port of Seattle from Japan.