The same year agricultural shipments set a record, BNSF’s southern route through Montana became part of a Seattle-Texas route for shipping containers, the kind that carry everything from clothing to televisions and to refrigerated foods.
The Montana Grain Growers, responding to the news of the BNSF takeover, said they were confident Montana’s agricultural economy would not be negatively affected.
“The transition of the MRL operation to BNSF should be fairly seamless for grain customers, as prices and railcars have always been from BNSF,” MGGA chairman Tryg Koch said in a press release. “We believe that BNSF’s culture of reinvestment in infrastructure will be positive for the return of this line to BNSF management.”
Wheat growers had faced tough shipping conditions as freight traffic increased in Montana, first when shipping conditions changed at the start of the decade for elevators carrying less than 100 rail cars. at the same time, although the rates were negotiated down. Later, increased rail traffic and weather conditions made it difficult to start expeditions. Coal shippers have faced similar challenges, though BNSF responded to shipping issues in 2014 with a $1.4 billion investment in track improvements in Montana and North Dakota.
In 2015, the North region was the fastest growing part of BNSF’s business, according to the company, which was spending billions on upgrades.