According to New Mexico 4 Economic Prosperity (NM4EP), New Mexico is part of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Southern Transcon, which runs from the ports in southern California to the Midwest. In New Mexico, it runs from Gallup to Clovis through Vaughn. BNSF owns 1,125 route miles and has track rights to another 515 within our state.About 9,000 carloads of New Mexico agriculture products and 8,000 carloads of consumer products are exported to other markets on BNSF railways. Another 73,900 carloads of industrial and energy products leave the state via BNSF. A total of 4.5 million carloads of freight move through New Mexico by BNSF annually.
BNSF has invested approximately $555 million to expand and maintain its New Mexico network over the past five years, including $80 million in 2019. That investment included a complete upgrade of the Clovis to Carlsbad/Loving track.
If you were observant, you would have seen the railroad maintenance crews replacing all 11 Roswell street crossings, signal lights, a majority of the wood ties, and miles of new rails. This BNSF upgrade qualified the rail line as a Class 1 (top rating) according to the Department of Transportation.Now that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the HI-STORE CISF site in Lea County for storage of spent nuclear fuel (SNF), it’s time to take a look at how the SNF is going to get to the CISF site 35 miles east of Carlsbad. The journey through New Mexico will be on the BNSF. The final leg will be on the rail line from Clovis down to Carlsbad, which passes through Roswell.
In a couple of years, uranium will be added to the product load in the form of spent nuclear fuel. This unused nuclear fuel is currently stored at 121 different sites in 39 states at an annual cost of $1.3 billion that could be consolidated and stored here in New Mexico.
This new revenue source could be an expansion of the existing industry in the nuclear corridor that includes URENCO uranium enrichment and WIPP transuranic waste storage.