BNSF recently supported the first-ever rail deployment of a Heavy Brigade Combat Team from the Minnesota National Guard.
Minnesota Division employees based in Little Falls, Staples, Superior and surrounding areas assisted in loading and safely moving nearly 1,000 pieces of equipment, including Humvees, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and Abrams tanks, as well as 120 containers for the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division. More than 400 rail cars traveled 2,234 miles from Camp Ripley to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. Eight trains safely departed central Minnesota over the course of nine days.
A single-track spur from Little Falls, Minn. serves Camp Ripley, with an additional two tracks inside the facility. Both were used for loading.
“Camp Ripley is a new territory with close clearance points and different walking conditions,” said Brian Whitmill, brakeman, “so we were on our toes.”
A team inspected and staged empty cars at Staples Yard before trains were built and inspected again. The National Guard representatives then loaded cars at Camp Ripley, and released them to BNSF Mechanical employees for additional inspection.
“This kind of operation is not something we deal with on a daily basis, with cars needing to be lined in a specific order, so we briefed a lot more,” said Chadd Nelson, road foreman of engines.