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To: BNSF Boxcar and Flatcar Customers

Reminder: Completely Unloading and Reporting Condition of Railcars Improves Car Availability and Quality

BNSF continuously strives to improve car availability and the condition of equipment we provide to our customers. A critical component of this effort is having railcars properly and completely unloaded by our receiving customers.

Clean and damage-free cars are the concern of both shippers and receivers. Keeping railcars in top condition can save you time and money through reduced manpower costs related to load preparation and unloading, as well as preventing fines for failure to properly unload cars. It will also allow BNSF to more quickly provide quality equipment to each customer.

What is “Proper Unloading”?

Proper unloading means:
Complete removal of product and shipping materials from inside of the boxcar or off the deck of the flatcar. (Shipping materials are cardboard or lumber used for separation or bracing, steel banding, plastic wrap, etc., and includes any material which is not a part of the car.)

The unloader is responsible for complete removal of product and shipping materials prior to releasing the car. BNSF requests that you please review the unloading procedures at your facilities to ensure that cars are being properly unloaded.

Rules and Requirements for Proper Unloading
Complete removal of product and shipping materials is a requirement under Rule 27, "Loading and Unloading," of the Uniform Freight Classification 6000-series, Rules and Regulations, as well as BNSF Rules Book 6100-series, item 3250, "Failure to Complete Unloading of Railcars." Click here to view the BNSF Rules Book.

These rules set out the requirements for the release of clean rail equipment and set charges when these conditions are not met--$500 per car, plus repositioning cost. A charge will be assessed to any company that unloads a car later found to contain materials, product, or debris.

What More Can You Do?

Additional measures customers take, such as reporting railcar condition, can further improve car availability and quality.

Report Condition Through BNSF’s Certified Unloader Program
This voluntary program is for receivers of boxcar or flatcar loads who unload and release empty railcars through the “Switch and Release” tool at to report any defects that are found while inspecting or unloading a railcar. The program allows BNSF to better monitor equipment condition and make repairs as necessary to reduce delays from rejected cars.

Certified Unloaders agree to:
Inspect railcars and identify defects
Release railcars via in a clean and reloadable condition
Release rejected equipment to BNSF for repair of reported defects

How does it work?
Cars released by a BNSF Certified Unloader will be assumed clean and suitable for reloading and will be distributed from the consignee’s siding directly to the next shipper. If the car is not considered ready for the next loading due to mechanical defects or interior damage – such as faulty doors, leaking roof, defects on interior walls or floors – the Certified Unloader can designate the car as certified clean, but reject for mechanical reasons through the online tool. BNSF will then arrange to have the car repaired and bring it back into service as quickly as possible.

For more information about joining BNSF’s Certified Unloader Program, contact your sales representative or BNSF’s Carload Equipment Team at 800-234-8440.

Report Condition Through BNSF’s Dirty Car Photo Upload Program
BNSF also offers a photo uploading tool to all registered users to aid in reporting dirty cars (unsuitable for loading) or to report conditions of equipment that may need repair. Photos allow BNSF to further explore the car’s issues and helps with documenting the degree to which the equipment is damaged.

To Access the Photo Upload Tool:
After logging in to, go to the “Application” section. Under the “Manage” tab, click on “Dirty Car Tracking Picture Upload.” (See screenshot below.)

To Report a Dirty Car:
The UPLOAD PICTURES feature allows customers to report and attach up to three photos and comments for each dirty car.

To Retrieve Photos Utilizing the Tracking Number on Your Bill:
Customers who have received a bill referencing BNSF Rules Book 6100A, item 3250/3251, have the ability to view photos of the cars through the SEARCH FOR TRACKING NUMBER feature by entering the tracking number found at the bottom of the bill.

If you have questions regarding the Photo Upload Tool or your bill, please contact your BNSF Demurrage Representative at 888-428-2673, option 3, 3, 3, or email

Photo tool2.JPG

For More Information

BNSF appreciates your assistance in maintaining equipment condition to improve car availability. If you have additional questions regarding equipment, please contact your sales representative or BNSF’s Carload Equipment Team at 800-234-8440.

Your business is important to us. Thank you again for choosing BNSF as your transportation service provider.

If you have any questions, please send an email to