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To: BNSF Consumer Products Customers

UPDATE: Extreme Cold Impacting Operations in Midwest

Arctic cold across the northern Plains and upper Midwest has caused significant operational challenges for train and hub operations in the region. All-time records have been broken in many locations, including Chicago, with air temperatures nearly 30 below zero and wind chills around 50 below zero.

The harsh conditions have resulted in multiple trains stopped due to broken rails as well as air flow issues involving trains’ braking systems despite the implementation of length restrictions and distributed locomotive power. Key subdivisions on our Twin Cities and Chicago Divisions currently have several disabled trains with no alternate routes available. We are also experiencing reduced productivity at terminals in the region due to multiple switch and air flow issues across rail yards.

While taking all necessary safety precautions to work in these conditions, BNSF crews are actively responding to service interruption locations and addressing issues. Our round-the-clock command center is directing response efforts and managing the deployment of resources to affected locations.

We are addressing issues at several hubs due to this extreme cold, with a substantial number of trains currently staged, elevated inventory levels at each Chicago/St. Paul facility and other unique issues in each location. In response, BNSF is taking the following specific steps, which includes recommendations for customers, drayage and haulaway carriers that will help to speed up recovery:

Most gate restrictions at these intermodal facilities will go into effect at midnight tonight. When implemented, gate restrictions are intended to ensure inventory balance at a facility and guard against a surge of in-gate volumes that would impede the ability to unload backlogged inbound volume. We will adjust and remove these restrictions as soon as possible.

Drivers operating in and out of intermodal facilities should download and use the RailPASS mobile application to receive real-time updates and instructions to enhance the productivity of their visit.

LPC Intermodal: Drivers picking up containers at LPC with a Lot S “Top of Stack” designation are asked to prioritize those shipments first in order to reduce wait times. The LPC “S” Lots are located under the widespan cranes.

BNSF West Coast hubs originating volume destined for Chicago or St. Paul facilities are also affected:
  • Various gate restrictions: Your BNSF sales representative will contact you regarding impacts to your business.
  • Some volume terminating in hubs located near Chicago or St. Paul will load and depart but will stage on line, possibly even in California.
  • Please expect tactical changes to continue being made regarding TSP to accommodate recovery efforts.

The severe cold will linger for the next 24-36 hours with some snow likely in the region, particularly the Chicago area, on Thursday night. Weather conditions will begin to improve on Friday along with a major warmup this weekend.

As we have communicated, our focus is on restoring normal operations as quickly and effectively as possible. If you have any questions regarding your shipment(s), please contact BNSF Customer Support at 1-888-428-2673.

We will continue to provide customers with further updates.

If you have any questions, please send an email to