BNSF Railway opens $40M switching yard in Von Ormy

BNSF Railway opens $40M switching yard in Von Ormy :Fort Worth-based BNSF Railway Co. is opening a $40 million switching yard in Von Ormy in southwestern Bexar County, aimed at speeding rail service into and out of South Texas and Mexico.

The new rail facility, the Cadet Yard, begins operations at a time when U.S. rail traffic has declined due to softness in the energy and manufacturing sectors, according to the Association of American Railroads.

U.S. carload traffic, including intermodal containers and trailers, in 2015 totaled 27.97 million carloads, down 2.5 percent from the year before. Mexican rail volumes, however, were on the rise last year, nearly reaching 1.4 million loads, up 1.1 percent from 2014.

Before opening the Cadet Yard — which will handle sand, ethanol and other fuels, grain, autos, auto parts and consumer goods — BNSF Railway routed freight from Mexico, crossing the border at Eagle Pass, to a BNSF switching yard in Temple, company spokesman Joe Faust said.

The new yard will receive and sort trains with mixed freight and reorganize the cars for delivery to customers, Faust said in an interview. It will take pressure off of the Temple yard and move freight sorting closer to Texas and Mexico for more efficient and quicker service to customers, he said.

The site used to be a passenger railway station that routed new Air Force recruits to basic training at Lackland AFB, Faust said.

The BNSF Cadet Yard will operate 365 days a year and already employs 85 people, 20 of them new hires, Faust and San Antonio Economic Development Foundation CEO Jenna Saucedo-Herrera said Tuesday.

Saucedo-Herrera said the switching yard will be a “great value” to existing and potential new companies in San Antonio. No local government incentives were used for the project, she said.

“The Cadet Yard is an asset for the area’s connectivity landscape,” she said. “It will enhance logistics, especially to Mexico.”

The new yard features 10 tracks and a side track for parking railcars away from the main tracks. It will have the capacity to hold 350 railcars.

Railroad tracks in the San Antonio area are all owned by Omaha, Nebraska-based Union Pacific Railroad. BNSF Railway has a trackage-rights agreement with Union Pacific to operate in the San Antonio area.

BNSF’s 32,500-mile network includes five border connections. In addition to the Eagle Pass crossing, the others are at Brownsville, El Paso, Laredo and San Diego.

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