BNSF Railway on October 1 announced plans to build a $1.5 billion, state-of-the-art rail facility in the city of Barstow, near the Mojave Desert in Southern California. Officials say the master-planned project will be the first of its kind to be developed by a Class 1 railroad.
Located about 130 miles from the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the Barstow International Gateway will sit on more than 4,500 acres just west of Barstow, where BNSF has operated an existing rail yard for more than 140 years.
The new facility will include a rail yard, intermodal facility and warehouses for transloading freight from international containers to domestic containers. The integrated rail facility will allow the direct transfer of containers from ships at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to trains for transport through the Alameda Corridor onto the BNSF mainline up to Barstow.
When containers reach the Barstow International Gateway, they will be processed using clean-energy-powered cargo-handling equipment, and then staged and built into trains moving east via BNSF’s network across the nation. Westbound freight will similarly be processed at the facility to more efficiently bring trains to the ports and other California terminals.
“By allowing for more efficient transfer of cargo directly between ships and rail, the Barstow International Gateway will maximize rail and distribution efficiency regionally and across the U.S. supply chain and reduce truck traffic and freeway congestion in the Los Angeles Basin and the Inland Empire,” said Katie Farmer, president and CEO of BNSF in a news release.
BNSF says the project will improve fluidity throughout BNSF’s rail network, move containers out of the ports quicker, and facilitate improved efficiency in operations at existing intermodal hubs, including those in the Midwest and Texas. The railroad company also says the project will create 20,000 direct and indirect jobs.
By allowing for more efficient transfer of cargo directly between ships and rail, the Barstow International Gateway will maximize rail and distribution efficiency regionally and across the U.S. supply chain, and also reduce truck traffic and freeway congestion in the Los Angeles Basin and the Inland Empire, project officials say.
Currently, most international cargo at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach arrives in standard 40-ft containers that are then trucked from the ports to warehouses in Los Angeles or the Inland Empire. Once the containers arrive at the warehouses, they are unloaded, sorted and re-loaded onto 53-ft domestic containers that are either transported by truck to a rail yard in Los Angeles, where they are transferred onto trains, or are simply trucked across the country. This process creates inefficiencies and unnecessary truck trips within the Los Angeles Basin and Inland Empire that can impact supply chain distribution, the environment and communities surrounding ports and warehouses.
The project will not require any physical modifications to existing facilities at the Port of Los Angeles or the Port of Long Beach.
BNSF, which plans to develop the project privately, says it is working with the Governor's Office of Business and Economic Development, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, along with the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and the City of Barstow. The City of Barstow says it is preparing an environmental analysis of the project and its environmental impacts as required by the California Environmental Quality Act.
BNSF operates approximately 32,500 route miles of track in 28 states and also operates in three Canadian provinces.