Network Update for Friday, March 3, 2017
The operation continues to address ongoing service challenges causing delays and extended transit times to/from locations in the Pacific Northwest. While the region experienced favorable weather during much of the past week, a substantial backlog of traffic still exists following the frequent severe weather events and subsequent track outages that occurred during the past several weeks. The average number of trains held remains significantly higher than normal levels as several subdivisions between western Montana and the Seattle/Portland areas, including major terminals in Spokane and Hauser, Idaho, remain congested.
The long duration of extreme weather that has impacted the Pacific Northwest and into parts of northern California this winter has tested the resiliency of already constrained portions of the network. This past February was the second wettest on record for Seattle, and precipitation received in that area since January 1 is 44% above normal levels. In Spokane, more than 52 inches of snow has fallen since December 1, which is nearly 20 inches above normal. Frigid temperatures and unusually heavy snow across Montana in the past two months, including the multiple avalanches that caused a nearly four-day outage of our Hi-Line Subdivision early last month, also negatively affected service performance.
As we move into March, our operations teams continue to implement procedures and take all appropriate actions to improve productivity in the North. Since January 1, we have put 250 locomotives back into service from our surge fleet, repositioned nearly 200 employees to the region, and we continue to focus on lengthening trains to maximize the volume that traverses through this impacted part of the network. Even as we take these actions, however, returning service to normal levels will require a sustained effort for an extended period.
With unfavorable weather expected to return, including heavy snow in the mountain passes east of Seattle today, and track maintenance work that must take place to ensure safety, additional service interruptions may occur in the weeks ahead. We will continue to respond as aggressively as possible to minimize any disruptions as well as provide you with updates on the progress we are making to restore service to the level you expect from us.
Service Expectations for the Week Ahead
The weather will be active in the Pacific Northwest during the upcoming week with several rounds of rain and mountain snow. At this time, however, no major severe storms are forecasted to impact the area. In the South Region, high winds are likely across eastern New Mexico through the Texas Panhandle late Sunday and into Monday, which may cause some speed reductions through portions of the Southern Transcon. Other areas of the network should experience generally favorable operating conditions during the next several days with no significant service interruptions due to weather expected.
Below is a look at the key operational performance categories for the week ending March 2:
Total trains held for the week decreased by 12 percent with an average 115.0 trains held versus 130.7 trains held during the prior week.
Versus the March 2016 average: up by 244.3%
Total trains on the system was essentially unchanged versus the prior week with an average of 1,483 trains on the system.
Locomotive velocity, measured in miles per day (MPD), was 276.1, which is down by nearly three percent from the 284.3 MPD recorded the prior week.
Versus the March 2016 average: down by 6.0%
Car velocity decreased by nearly three percent at 204.8 MPD versus 210.2 MPD recorded the prior week.
Versus the March 2016 average: down by 8.8%
Train velocity, measured in miles per hour (MPH), was essentially unchanged from the prior week at 17.5 MPH.
Versus the March 2016 average: down by 20.6%
Total volume was down by more than three percent from the prior week with 192,293 units moved in Week 8 (ending February 25) versus 198,622 units in Week 7 (ending February 18).
Terminal dwell was essentially unchanged from the prior week at 27.4 hours.
Versus the March 2016 average: up by 12.2%
As always, we thank you for your business and appreciate the opportunity to serve as your transportation service provider. We welcome your feedback and questions.