Burlington Northern Santa Fe expanding Southern Transcon line in Chase County Featured

A Burlington Northern Santa Fe train moves past a work zone between Ellinor and Saffordville on Saturday. The railroad is installing a second line to its Southern Transcon to better accommodate projected increases in intermodal freight in the coming years. A Burlington Northern Santa Fe train moves past a work zone between Ellinor and Saffordville on Saturday. The railroad is installing a second line to its Southern Transcon to better accommodate projected increases in intermodal freight in the coming years. Chuck Samples/KVOE News

Burlington Northern Santa Fe is in the middle of a major expansion west of Emporia.


The railroad has confirmed to KVOE News it is installing a second line for its Southern Transcon, the railroad's main line from Chicago to Los Angeles. The work is currently focused on a 42-mile stretch from Ellinor, an unincorporated community about three miles southwest of Saffordville, to El Dorado.

BNSF is not saying how much money it is investing is in the new line, but spokesperson Amy Casas says this is part of a multi-year, multi-phase project to support projected growth in intermodal freight traffic in Kansas and nearby states. Casas also says BNSF has invested over $800 million in improvements across Kansas the past five years.

Casas says the work is unrelated to a Kansas Court of Appeals ruling from late 2018 on the length of time trains can block crossings. Chase County had filed suit against the railroad in 2016, saying a train had parked on a siding for four hours -- well above the 10 minutes allowed by state law before trains have to be moved or uncoupled. In siding with the railroad, the Court of Appeals said federal law allowed for longer park times, thus overruling the state law on the topic.

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