FORT WORTH, TX-Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway Co. (BNSF) will become the first U.S. railroad to establish a permanent presence in China when it opens an office in Shanghai this summer.

"As the United States' trade with Asia continues to grow, it becomes more and more important for BNSF to collaborate with our customers in countries such as China to ensure the fluidity of U.S.-Asia trade," says BNSF vice president Steve Branscum. "The new China office will allow us to expand our presence in Asia, strengthen existing partnerships with key stakeholders in international trade and explore growth opportunities in other Asian countries."

Since the early 1980s, BNSF has been handling imports from China through Chinese ocean carrier COSCO. In 2004, BNSF and the China Ministry of Railways signed a 5-year Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation in Rail Transport.

BNSF Railway operates one of the largest railroad networks in North America, with about 32,000 route miles in 28 states and two Canadian provinces.