Network Update for Friday, December 2, 2016
The operation continues to exhibit strong resiliency despite confronting some service challenges that have affected parts of our Northern Corridor this week. As we reported to all impacted customers, an empty BNSF grain train derailed Monday morning near Palermo, North Dakota, which is located on our busy Glasgow Subdivision between Williston and Minot. The incident was caused by a truck at a gated crossing. While some traffic was delayed, several trains were able to be re-routed to minimize this disruption. BNSF crews worked through severe winter weather conditions to complete track and signal repairs as quickly as possible. The first main line was returned to service within 24 hours while the second main line reopened to traffic Wednesday morning.
Snow accumulations were high in some areas of our North Line earlier this week, with records set in several western North Dakota locations, including Minot. The heavy snow created isolated issues involving crew transportation as impassable roads prevented some train crews from reaching certain crew change locations. With the ground across western Washington saturated from heavy rainfall, BNSF crews have responded to a few landslides that have occurred during the past couple weeks, including along our Seattle Subdivision, and have performed maintenance activity in several areas to address affected track.
Adverse operating conditions are also impacting parts of our South Region today and into the weekend. High wind warnings are currently in effect for much of southern California through tomorrow afternoon. Wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour are possible in some of the canyon and mountainous locations along our Southern Transcon, including the Cajon Pass. As this system moves east, wintry weather is likely in eastern New Mexico and across the Texas Panhandle, while heavy rain is expected for the Gulf Coast. The BNSF Operations team is monitoring these conditions and will implement procedures, including temporary speed restrictions if necessary, to ensure safety.
BNSF to Operate Tenaha-Silsbee, Texas Rail Line Beginning January 1st
After reaching agreement with the Timber Rock Railroad (TIBR), BNSF will resume direct service between Tenaha and Silsbee, TX beginning January 1, 2017. The track between Tenaha and Silsbee spans more than 130 miles and TIBR has been operating on the line since 2004, while BNSF maintained ownership of the track. With this agreement, BNSF train crews will again operate trains on the subdivision and our engineering crews will take over maintenance of the track and related infrastructure. BNSF plans to spend more than $40 million on the Tenaha/Silsbee line over the next several years, which will include improvements to bridges, the installation of 166,000 new ties and more than 13 miles of new rail.
The resumption of our direct service on this line will provide new opportunities to move freight more efficiently between Longview and Beaumont, TX. We are working closely with TIBR to ensure a smooth transition, and we look forward to providing best-in-class service as well as strengthening our relationships with customers in east Texas in the New Year.
Service Expectations for the Week Ahead
More severe winter weather is expected to impact the northern portion of the network during the upcoming week. The first Arctic outbreak of the season will bring frigid conditions starting Monday, with single digit temperatures expected in the northern Plains. Additional rain and/or multiple inches of snow is also likely in the Pacific Northwest. In response to harsh winter weather, each BNSF operating division is ready to implement a winter action plan to keep trains moving as efficiently and reliably as possible.
Below is a look at the key operational performance categories for the week ending December 1:
Total trains held for the week was up by more than 14 percent with an average 75.0 trains held versus 65.6 trains held during the prior week.
Versus the December 2015 average: up by 30.4%
Total trains on the system was down by more than four percent with an average of 1,371 trains on the system versus 1,434 trains during the prior week.
Locomotive velocity, measured in miles per day (MPD), was 291.6, which is down by nearly five percent from the 306.7 MPD recorded the prior week.
Versus the December 2015 average: up by 4.1%
Car velocity decreased by more than two percent at 226.9 MPD versus 232.1 MPD recorded the prior week.
Versus the December 2015 average: down by 0.1%
Train velocity, measured in miles per hour (MPH), was down by more than one percent from the prior week at 19.6 MPH.
Versus the December 2015 average: down by 6.5%
Total volume was down by more than 12 percent from the prior week due primarily to the Thanksgiving holiday, with 178,691 units moved in Week 46 (ending November 26) versus 203,549 units in Week 46 (ending November 19), our second highest weekly total in 2016 year-to-date.
Terminal dwell increased by more than one percent from the prior week at 25.4 hours.
Versus the December 2015 average: up by 3.7%
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.