The line through the Powder River Basin was originally built by Burlington Northern between 1972 and 1979. By 1985, the single track line was handling 19 million tons of coal per year. Chicago Northwest and Union Pacific together bought 50% of the interest in the line. This resulted in both BN and CNW trains accessing the coal mines. In 1994, the single track was resulting in bottlenecks over the line and over the next three years, a second main was added to the entire line. By the year 2000, a third track was added to some of the line to accommodate continuing increases in coal demand. In 2005, the basin handled 325 million tons of coal. The line sees as many as 80 loaded coal trains (meaning 160 total trains) in a 24 hour period! In 2006, UP and BNSF invested another $100 million to add a fourth main track to 20 miles (over Logan Hill) of the line. The line is now has the capacity to support 400 million tons of coal annually! The fourth track project was completed in 2008. Here, an eastbound (geographically south) BNSF coal load climbing Logan hill on Main 4 meets a westbound (geographically north) UP coal empty descending down Main 2.
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