BNSF Locomotives

We have one of the newest locomotive fleets in the industry. A typical BNSF locomotive will travel up to 4.8 million miles in its lifetime - equal to about 20 trips from the earth to the moon.

  • 73 feet long
  • 15 feet high
  • 210,000 parts
  • Weighs an average of 480,000 pounds (112 large SUVs)
  • Holds 5,000 gallons of fuel
  • 4,400 horsepower

Our Fleet

We operate about 8,000 locomotives. About 6,000 are road locomotives, meaning they haul trains over long distances, and the rest are local, switch or yard locomotives.

The "Consist"

The term "consist" means the arrangement of rail cars, with or without locomotives, on a train. Rail employees pronounce it with the emphasis on the first syllable ("con-sist").

BNSF trains can use multiple locomotives at the front. Sometimes, a train will have a locomotive at either end, with one pulling and one pushing. The resulting distributed power effect helps the train operate more efficiently. For example, with a train passing over a hill, the locomotive at the end can push the train over the hill while the locomotive in front is already starting to brake on the far slope.


We work with locomotive manufacturers to help determine how often purchased locomotive parts need to be replaced and assist us in predicting when maintenance is needed throughout the asset's lifecycle. In general, the period between overhauls for our road locomotives is eight to 10 years. During an overhaul, the engine and alternator are rebuilt or replaced and any wear and tear on the body is repaired. They also go through routine maintenance on average every 184 days.


On a train carrying freight to a destination across the railroad, an engineer and a conductor will be aboard. The engineer controls the throttle, brakes and whistle while the conductor monitors signals. They work together to watch conditions in and around the train and ensure safe train operations.

To become locomotive engineers, employees must first have worked as yard foremen, helpers, brakemen or conductors before training to operate the locomotive. It takes 13 to 15 weeks of training to get started in these positions. Becoming an engineer requires another 20 weeks of training and passing written exams.

Lower emissions

Our customers significantly decrease their carbon footprint by converting their shipments from trucks to trains. In fact, a single double-stack intermodal train removes several hundred long-haul freight trucks from the highway. Rail also provides tremendous benefits by reducing our country's overall transportation emissions and carbon footprint.

Fuel efficiency

No other form of land freight transportation is by its very nature more fuel- and resource-efficient than rail. On average, rail is more than three times as fuel efficient as over-the-road transportation options. BNSF trains can move one ton of freight nearly 500 miles on just one gallon of diesel fuel.

We've upgraded the majority of our locomotives to more energy-efficient technologies over the last decade, helping us to make advances in increasing fuel efficiency and decreasing CO2 and particulate emissions. Changes in operations and maintenance practices have also contributed to fuel-efficiency and carbon reductions.

Examples include the addition of locomotive energy management systems that help optimize throttle and brake use as well as the installation of automatic start/stop devices on the majority of our locomotives to prevent unnecessary idling.

Select more train cars below to explore.