BNSF engines

Dozens of BNSF Railway Co. engines are lined up on the railroad tracks near 37th Street and Harborside Drive in Galveston on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020.


Dozens of orange-and-yellow locomotives have been parked north of Harborside Drive near 37th Street, with no apparent destination, for weeks — leading some to wonder what’s going on.

According to the BNSF Railway Co., there’s nothing to worry about and the train engines will be gone eventually.

“Some of these are going to be sold, while others will be stored there while we are evaluating what will be done with them,” BNSF Railway Company spokeswoman Jeanelle Davis said.

In a text message, Galveston Port Director Rodger Rees said his understanding was that the engines were on rail company property waiting to be sold for scrap.

“BNSF said we should see them starting to leave soon,” Rees said.

BNSF owns large tracts of land near the Port of Galveston, including the area where the locomotives are being stored for the time being, according to Galveston County Central Appraisal District Records.

Port officials have talked about using some of the rail company’s land as storage space for cargo as the port prepares to build a new cruise terminal at Pier 10.

Last week, the port confirmed that one company, Atlantic Container Lines, will move its cargo operations to Freeport because of storage space concerns at the port. The port in January notified Atlantic Container Lines that it no longer would be able to use space at Pier 39 because another tenant was being moved to the west end of the port.

The port has not purchased any land from the railway, but Rees confirmed the port was seeking more information about who owned the land.

“We are trying to get documentation of ownership,” Rees said. “Records are incomplete.”

He did not respond to two follow-up phone calls seeking further information on Tuesday. On Tuesday evening, Rees asked for The Daily News to send him written questions about BNSF and the port’s interest in the land.

Late Wednesday afternoon, a port spokeswoman responded to The Daily News with a short email saying the port had made no offer to buy the land but did have “verbal correspondence” with BNSF about incomplete records.

If the port had the land, it would be used for cargo, the spokeswoman said.

John Wayne Ferguson: 409-683-5226; or on Twitter @johnwferguson.

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(7) comments

Allison Buchtien

Last week I saw a survey crew doing a survey of the property that was recently cleared south of Harborside and west of 37th street. According to the CAD, BNSF owns this property. Wonder if this is related?

AJ LeBlanc

I work in the equipment management group for a large company so I suspected this might be part of an asset sale or disposal. Nevertheless, the sight of so many locomotives in one place is awesome (especially if you're a train freak, engineer of any type, kid, grown up, etc.) Considering each one of these probably cost from $500K to $1.5M+ when new, there is a huge capital investment sitting there (once upon a time). Quite a sight to see. [smile]

Miceal O'Laochdha

Under the current POG administration, I would expect that any new land acquisition would end up being used for ever more cruise passenger parking space, rather than as lay down area for cargo customers. Hope I am wrong.

Allison Buchtien

Yeah, I was thinking this as well. It will definitely lead to more flooding on Harborside if additional parking lots are created. I guess people just don't understand that less green space means more runoff.

Charlotte O'rourke

Miceal, I agree with you. The POG administration should have already leased or purchased property for moving cargo west. That the port did not plan for this and we lost jobs and are losing term port customers says much more than the slick words.

Gary Miller

All those used engines were replaced by more efficient models. Just like a truck fleet does. Their original value was discounted on taxes. If sold they would pay taxes again.

horace norris

I need to buy one to get around the island these days

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