FARGO - An economic downturn involving a variety of commodities across various parts of the United States has resulted in BNSF Railway parking about 45 of its train locomotives at the railroad’s train yard just off 12th Avenue North west of the North Dakota State University campus.
“Customers’ volumes across a broad spectrum of commodities have come down somewhat from their prior estimates,” said Amy McBeth, a spokeswoman for BNSF. “As a result, we are strategically storing locomotives in some yard locations across our network.”
McBeth said the locomotives will remain stored until traffic volumes warrant returning them to service.
Quarterly profits for Forth Worth-based BNSF, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, fell 25 percent in the first quarter of 2016.
The railroad has been cutting staff in the wake of a changing economic environment that includes low energy prices, the strong dollar and other factors, McBeth said.
“Nationwide, while petroleum products volumes are down, coal is down, too, as are a number of other commodities,” she added.
The rail industry trade group AAR has reported that for the first four months of 2016 total rail traffic volume in the U.S. was down 7.8 percent from the same period last year.