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On January 24, 2005, the railroad's name was officially changed to "BNSF Railway," using the initials of its original name.In 1999, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and the Canadian National Railway announced their intention to merge and form a new corporation entitled North American Railways to be headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.The creation of BNSF started with the formation of a holding company on September 22, 1995.

In Texas, BNSF received rights in several directions from the Houston area: west over UP to San Antonio, with a branch to Waco, and continuing over SP to Eagle Pass (replacing the haulage rights they had just obtained); south over UP to Brownsville; east over SP to New Orleans (including the purchase of this line east of Lake Charles); and northeast over SP to Memphis with a branch on UP to Little Rock.

Ownership of a short connection between Waxahachie and Dallas also went from UP to BNSF.

Unlike BN and ATSF, UP and SP had significant overlap, where competition between the two would become a monopoly.

UP and BNSF announced in late September 1995 that, in exchange for BNSF not opposing the merger, it would obtain ownership of 335 miles (539 km) of line and about 3,500 miles (5,600 km) of trackage rights to reach these "two-to-one" shippers.

The Aurora Branch eventually grew into the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, (CB&Q), a major component of predecessor Burlington Northern. It built one of the first transcontinental railroads in North America, linking Chicago and Southern California; major branches led to Texas, Denver, and San Francisco.

The Interstate Commerce Commission denied a proposed merger with the Southern Pacific Transportation Company in the 1980s. Its main lines included Chicago-Seattle with branches to Texas (ex-Burlington) and Montgomery, Alabama (ex-Frisco), and access to the low-sulfur coal of Wyoming's Powder River Basin. The long-rumored announcement was delayed by a disagreement over the disposition of Santa Fe Pacific Gold Corporation, a gold mining subsidiary that ATSF agreed to sell to stockholders.The BNSF and UP have a duopoly on all transcontinental freight rail lines in the Western U. and share trackage rights over thousands of miles of track.The BNSF Railway Company is the principal operating subsidiary of parent company Burlington Northern Santa Fe, LLC.The Burlington Northern Railroad (BN) was created in 1970 through the consolidation of the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad, the Great Northern Railway, the Northern Pacific Railway and the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway. On June 30, 1994, BN and ATSF announced plans to merge; they were the largest and smallest (by mileage) of the "Super Seven," the seven largest of the then-twelve U. This announcement began the next wave of mergers, as the "Super Seven" were merged down to four in the next five years.The Illinois Central Railroad and Kansas City Southern Railway (KCS), two of the five "small" Class Is, announced on July 19 that the former would buy the latter, On February 7, 1995, BN and ATSF heads Gerald Grinstein and Robert D.Krebs both announced shareholders had approved the plan, which would save overhead costs and combine BN's coal and ATSF's intermodal strengths.