Network Update for Friday, December 16, 2016
The operation maintained good overall velocity and fluidity during the past week while continuing to confront service challenges across the Northern Corridor due to harsh winter weather. As we have reported, frequent winter storms and extremely cold temperatures during the past few weeks have negatively impacted service performance in some areas, which has resulted in higher than normal levels of trains holding and delays. Winter action plans have been implemented across several subdivisions due to heavy snow and ice, including yesterday across our busy Fallbridge and Lakeside Subdivisions that run between Spokane and Vancouver, Washington.
With another strong storm moving east today, winter storm warnings are currently in effect for much of the northern Plains and upper Midwest where nearly a foot of snow is possible in some areas. This same storm will also usher in the coldest temperatures of the season, with many locations dropping well below zero this weekend. Extremely cold temperatures can create challenges for our trains' braking systems because of reduced air flow. To compensate for that reduction, we are able to equip some trains with distributed power, which creates two sources of air flow throughout a train. This approach is also more efficient than the alternative, which is to shorten train lengths.
BNSF will activate round-the-clock command centers as necessary to manage our response to any service interruptions and our crews will continue to conduct additional track inspections to ensure safety. We are also monitoring conditions in parts of our South Region as high wind watches and warnings are currently in effect across much of the desert Southwest. Wind gusts around 60 miles per hour are possible in some locations, which may result in temporary speed restrictions being imposed through some areas.
Christmas and New Year's Operating Plan
BNSF will continue to operate carload and local terminal train service according to normal schedules throughout the upcoming Christmas and New Year's holiday weekends. While focused on meeting customers' expectations, operations support will be matched to any reductions in traffic volumes. Delays may occur on interline traffic if connecting carriers have reduced operations for the holidays. BNSF may also annul or consolidate some carload train symbols, including through, local and industry switch jobs, immediately following the Christmas and New Year's Day holiday observances.
Service Expectations for the Week Ahead
As winter officially begins next week, temperatures will be at or near normal levels for this time of year across much of the North. No major winter storms are expected during the upcoming week at this time, however, we are monitoring the potential for another influx of arctic air across portions of the network heading into Christmas weekend.
Note: With the upcoming Christmas and New Year's holidays, the next bi-weekly network update will be delivered on Friday, January 6, 2017. We wish all of our customers a very safe and happy holiday season.
Below is a look at the key operational performance categories for the week ending December 15:
Total trains held for the week decreased by nearly one percent with an average 61.4 trains held versus 61.9 trains held during the prior week.
Versus the December 2015 average: up by 6.8%
Total trains on the system was up by nearly two percent with an average of 1,447 trains on the system versus 1,422 trains during the prior week.
Locomotive velocity, measured in miles per day (MPD), was 309.8, which is essentially unchanged from the 309.1 MPD recorded the prior week.
Versus the December 2015 average: up by 10.6%
Car velocity decreased by more than three percent at 225.5 MPD versus 233.5 MPD recorded the prior week.
Versus the December 2015 average: down by 0.7%
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 nearly three percent from the prior week with 198,215 units moved in Week 49 (ending December) versus 204,126 units in Week 48 (ending December 3).
Terminal dwell increased by more than five percent from the prior week at 25.9 hours.
Versus the December 2015 average: up by 5.8%
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.