(Dec. 17) FORT WORTH, Texas — Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co. is heading into the New Year with a new guarantee.

The company has once again expanded its full money-back guarantee for carload rail service, including refrigerated shipments.

In October, the company expanded the service to include lanes from the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest and Texas. In its most recent expansion, the company has added seven lanes to the program, which allows shippers to purchase a guarantee for on-time rail service to any of these lanes.

The added lanes include routes from the Pacific Northwest to Arizona and to Northern and Southern California. The remaining two lanes are from Northern and Southern California to the Midwest.

With the guarantee, the rail company will offer a 100% refund for each load that arrives later than the predetermined transit time. The transit time will be agreed upon beforehand by BNSF and the customer.

Generally, on-time performance is measured from the time one customer releases the car to the time it is spotted on the receiving dock.

In April 2001, the company expanded its on-time intermodal guarantee to include temperature-controlled commodities. The program expansion introduced earlier this year is the first time BNSF has offered a money-back guarantee on carload — or nonintermodal — shipments.

In other news, the company announced an agreement in November with Norfolk Southern Railway Co., Norfolk, Va., to introduce a coast-to-coast carload service assurance program for temperature controlled commodities moving from selected cities in the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest, Northeast and Southeast. That program began Dec. 1.

Cities in that program include Seattle, Tacoma, Pasco and Yakima, Wash.; Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Ohio, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Charlotte, N.C.

Steve Branscum, group vice president of BNSF’s Consumer Products Business Unit, said in a news release that the program was designed to attract shippers that may have been reluctant to ship by rail in the past.

“Consistency and speed are critical for shippers moving temperature-controlled commodities,” he said. “We simply felt it was time to offer shippers an incentive to try rail.”

For more information, visit BNSF’s Web site at www.bnsf.com or Norfolk Southern at www.nscorp.com.