Federal officials OK Montana Rail Link ending lease with BNSF


The Surface Transportation Board on Wednesday issued a decision to approve Montana Rail Link’s petition to end its long-term lease with BNSF Railway, both companies announced Wednesday in a news release.

With the STB decision, Montana Rail Link (MRL) and BNSF officials said they will begin the transition, expected to be complete by the end of the year, in which BNSF will take over MRL and its 937 miles of track in Montana and Idaho.

The decision is effective April 7. Trains Magazine, at trains.com, reported this deal paves “the way for BNSF to regain control of the former Northern Pacific main line between Jones Junction, Mont., and Sandpoint, Idaho.”

“Our team is eager and ready for the next chapter in MRL’s history. We have created a strong culture at MRL and BNSF shares our values,” MRL President Joe Racicot said in the news release. “Our shared commitment to safety and customer service are bedrock values within both companies that will never change.”

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MRL, founded in 1987 by entrepreneur Dennis Washington and part of The Washington Cos., announced an agreement in early 2022 for BNSF to take over its mainline

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