On a Faster Track

How America's No. 2 railroad went high tech to grab a bigger slice of the booming China trade

If you want proof that America's railroads are back on track, take a look inside the Network Operations Center (NOC) of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co. (BNSF). Dispatchers at the railway's headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, sit hunched over computers 24/7, directing trains for the nation's second largest railroad and tracking shipments of everything from coal to Wal-Mart clothing. Nine megascreens monitor the flow of goods on 200,000 railcars across 33,000 miles of track--Chinese merchandise rolling east from California, Midwest grain heading west and then to Asia, FedEx packages crisscrossing the nation. Last year this "old economy" business...

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