ON MARCH 8 Burlington Northern Santa Fe announced a $2·5bn capital spending plan for 1999. This is a similar amount to recent previous years, so that by the end of 1999 BNSF will have invested almost $10bn over a four-year period.

Nearly a third of the 1999 programme, $812m, will go on infrastructure improvements throughout the 50000 km network, including 1300 km of new rail and 2·4 million sleepers. More than 20000 track-km will be resurfaced. As part of its drive to increase capacity, BNSF will spend $456m on double and triple-tracking key routes, primarily in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming, and expanding several yards.

Another $400m will go on high-horsepower diesel locos, to be financed via operating leases. With earlier orders, BNSF will buy 476 locos at a total cost of $733m, which it says is the largest number ever purchased in a single year by one US railway. During 1999 BNSF expects to take delivery of 300 Dash 9-44CWs from General Electric and 160 SD70MACs from General Motors, bringing the classes to 936 and 750 units respectively. One in three BNSF locos will be less than four years old.