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Although freight railroads carry all types of consumer goods--from candy to cars and sweaters to magazines--rarely, if ever, do they deal directly with consumers. Burlington Northern Santa Fe is changing that.
Through the railroad's CarsOnTrack program, launched December 7, consumers can ship their personal vehicles anywhere in the United States, at a cost that BNSF says is 30 percent less than moving a vehicle by truck.
A new Website, carsontrack.com, serves as a virtual station agent that lets customers arrange a shipment, pay for the service with a credit card, and track their vehicles from origin to destination.
For now, the only origin-destination pair is Los Angeles-Chicago, served via BNSF's auto ramps in Commerce City, Calif., and Naperville, Ill. After testing the service, BNSF plans to expand it to other lanes.
BNSF says the program is the first service from a Class 1 railroad that's aimed at consumers and allows for payment with a credit card. It will be most useful, the railroad says, for people who are moving long distances.
"This service will allow BNSF to offer the individual consumer the same safe, efficient, cost-effective vehicle shipping that we've provided the top vehicle manufacturers for decades," said Kathleen Regan, vice president, eBusiness Development for BNSF. "And, while we will target the individual consumer, we also anticipate a potential market for off-lease or turn-back vehicles headed to auctions and used-car lots."
The program will help earn revenue on backhauls of multilevel auto racks, which often run empty while returning to assembly plants for loading.
The Pasha Group, a BNSF service partner, serves all other origin and destination points through a national truck network that can ship to any location in the continental U.S.
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