Inland Action meets with Lena Kent, BNSF Railway – BIG Project

On June 4, 2024 members of Inland Action met with Lena Kent, BNSF Railway, General Director of Public Affairs. Ms. Kent discussed the proposed Barstow International Gateway (BIG).

A first in the nation, BNSF Railway plans to invest more than $1.5 billion to construct a state-of-the-art master planned rail facility. The new integrated rail facility will include a rail yard, intermodal facility and warehouses for transloading freight from international to domestic containers.   

​The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the largest in the nation and responsible for 40% of goods entering the U.S. However, record demand, coupled with inefficiencies, has put a strain on the ports’ goods movement network. The current process has international cargo arriving and then trucked from the Ports to warehouses in Los Angeles or Inland Empire. These containers are unloaded, classified, and re-loaded onto domestic containers​ that are either transported by truck to a railyard and loaded onto trains headed for destinations across the United States; or are trucked across the country. This inefficiency causes 

  • Increased congestion and traffic on highways, impacting air and quality of life  
  • Longer multi-hour commutes for residents in the high desert who travel to and from the Inland Empire and elsewhere for employment​ 
  • Supply chain delays and inefficiencies 

How It Works​: Cargo containers arriving at the Ports will be transferred directly to trains for transport to BIG​. Containers will then be handled with zero- and near-zero-emission cargo-handling equipment. Containers will be transloaded at the on-site warehouses with minimal truck movement​. From there containers will be sorted by destination and loaded on trains moving east to maximize rail and distribution efficiency​. This closed loop rail operation will have the following benefits: 
Economy: Brings thousands of direct and indirect jobs to high desert communities. 
Supply Chain: Allows for more efficient transfer of cargo directly between ships and rail​Maximizes rail and distribution efficiency regionally and across the U.S. supply chain​.  
Environment​: Reduces truck and freeway congestion in the Los Angeles Basin and Inland Empire, improving air quality. 

Inland Action supports this innovative way to more efficiently move goods, to improve air quality in the basin and to reduce truck traffic in the region.