Buffett's BNSF railroad eyes blockchain for shipping freight

Warren Buffett stops at the BNSF Railway booth in the exhibit hall during the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S. April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ryan Henriksen

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Warren Buffett’s railroad is taking a ride on the blockchain.

BNSF Railway Co, a unit of the billionaire's conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway Inc BRKa.N, on Monday said it has become the first major U.S. railroad to join the Blockchain in Transport Alliance.

The alliance is a group of more than 200 companies examining how best to use the digital ledger technology behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the transport industry.

It hopes to establish blockchain standards in such areas as vehicle maintenance, quality control and fraud prevention.

Among its members are shippers FedEx Corp FDX.N and United Parcel Service Inc UPS.N, tire maker Bridgestone Corp 5108.T, German software company SAP SE SAPG.DE and some banks and brokers, according to the alliance's website.

BNSF said it will work with other alliance members to decide how data should be used in the freight transportation blockchain.

“It is important that the industry comes together to align around a set of standards,” Muru Murugappan, BNSF’s vice president of technology services, said in a statement.

He was not immediately available for additional comment.

BNSF operates in 28 U.S. states and Canada, and is among the largest of Berkshire’s more than 90 business units. It generated $2.84 billion of profit in the first nine months of 2017.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker