BNSF Responds to Ongoing Winter Weather Challenges - Significant Ice Storm to Impact Central Plains This Weekend
Operating conditions have remained extremely harsh across substantial portions of BNSF's Northern Corridor this week, which continues to negatively impact service performance in some areas. Another strong winter storm could create some additional disruptions this weekend as ice storm warnings are currently in effect for a large portion of the central Plains, including Kansas City and St. Louis, through Sunday night. With a quarter-inch or more of ice possible, BNSF has pre-treated key areas to the greatest extent possible, pre-positioned backup generators to critical locations that could be affected by a commercial power loss and reviewed winter action plans with various operations teams. We have also positioned additional locomotives to assist in moving train crews in response to road closures, or travel that is severely impacted, and we have additional personnel in reserve that are ready to assist with maintaining operations if necessary.
As we have reported, our operating crews have confronted an unrelenting wave of extreme winter weather, with frigid below-zero temperatures and heavy snowfall impacting many locations across our northern lines. Earlier this week, we experienced some service disruptions in the Pacific Northwest, including on our Seattle and Fallbridge Subdivisions, where record snowfall caused switch issues in several locations and impaired crew transportation. We also continue to address service disruptions in northern California resulting from heavy rainfall, which has caused several washouts. Our Gateway Subdivision, which runs between Klamath Falls, Oregon and Keddie, California, was forced out of service for nearly 36 hours earlier this week due to high water. Multiple washouts have also suspended service through other areas north of Sacramento. BNSF teams have been engaged in broad, coordinated efforts to reroute and detour traffic as much as possible to minimize delays caused by these outages.
The extreme cold, where temperatures have dropped to more than 25 degrees below zero in some locations, can create challenges for our trains' braking systems because of reduced air flow. To compensate for that reduction, rather than shortening train lengths, some trains must be equipped with distributed power, which creates two sources of air flow throughout a train. We have repositioned more than 100 locomotives from our South Region up to the North and will continue to reposition additional power as necessary. We have also temporarily deployed an additional 130 Train, Yard, and Engine (TYE) employees to several subdivisions across the North to further assist with freight operations.
BNSF has invested significant capital across our network, including across the North Region over the past few years, and we will continue to invest in future growth. Even with these investments, however, significant events will periodically occur that will disrupt the operation. When that happens, BNSF is committed to keeping customers informed about the situation, and we will be relentless in our efforts to quickly resolve the temporary service issues. If you have any questions regarding your shipment(s), please contact BNSF Customer Support at 1-888-428-2673 (select option 4, then option 3). We will provide customers with further updates on any major service interruptions.