Handling of Stored/Idled Railcars Prior to Service Return

Mar 9, 2021

As requests are made to BNSF for stored and/or idled railcars to be placed back into service, we would like to advise customers of the handling process involving our mechanical teams.

The length of time that a railcar has resided in storage and/or has been idle factors into whether any mechanical review is required. With equipment failures more likely following a period of long-term storage or idle status, BNSF now requires a physical inspection for cars that have not been in service for more than 180 days.

The following guidelines determine the level of mechanical inspection needed prior to a railcar’s return to service:

Car(s) Stored and/or Idled Less Than 45 Days
No mechanical notification or inspection required

Car(s) Stored and/or Idled Between 45-180 Days
Notify BNSF Mechanical Team to research the railcar(s) for any prior issues or defects as well as any current maintenance alerts/advisories
     - Only railcar(s) identified with open defects or alerts are required to be inspected and repaired

Car(s) Stored and/or Idled for More Than 180 Days
Physical mechanical inspection required: initial terminal inspection will involve testing the railcar(s) for proper air flow and brake movement
     - “Air test” (compressed air from either locomotives or available ground air source) is conducted involving all cars that are part of the train

Third-party qualified mechanical inspectors may perform the required inspections and tests. These guidelines apply to all idled or stored railcars; the handling of BNSF system cars returning to service is managed internally.

If you have any questions about this process, please contact your BNSF representative.

The safe and efficient movement of your freight is important to us. Thank you for choosing BNSF Railway as your transportation service provider.