Service Update for Friday, August 28, 2015
The operation experienced mostly steady performance and good fluidity across the network this week. Minor service interruptions associated with ongoing maintenance and capital expansion as well as the wildfire situation in the Pacific Northwest contributed to a small spike in total trains held. We also moved the highest weekly volume of 2015 to date at 207,908 units, exceeding the 200,000 level for the fifth week in a row and the 14th week this year.
As we have reported, the wildfires in northwestern Montana have impacted normal train operations through the area. The Sheep Fire, located near Essex, Montana along our Hi-Line Subdivision, expanded yesterday and is now within 200 yards of our main line. As a result, train traffic through the area was suspended last night and the town of Essex has been evacuated. We are working closely with the local incident commander and other fire officials to support the ongoing firefighting effort. Our crews applied approximately 18,000 gallons of water and about 80 gallons of foam to a one mile span along the tracks to slow down the fire’s advance and mitigate any damage to property.
If conditions improve, several trains are staged and ready to take advantage of any opportunity to operate through the area safely today. We will also continue to re-route traffic to minimize any service disruption caused by this situation. Fire conditions could worsen tomorrow with strong winds in the forecast, however, a changing weather pattern will increase the chances for rain and bring much cooler temperatures to the area as we move into next week.
The ongoing maintenance activity and expansion work on the network requires careful coordination between our engineering and operations teams to minimize train flow disruptions as much as possible. On our busy St. Croix Subdivision, which runs between St. Croix, Minnesota and La Crosse, Wisconsin, both main tracks along a 10 mile stretch were impacted by signal cutover and testing work late last week as part of our installation of Centralized Traffic Control (CTC). The CTC signaling system gives a central dispatcher the ability to control railroad switches, which allows trains to switch tracks without stopping. The video below highlights how CTC technology optimizes traffic flow and can provide expanded capacity:
Nearly half of the approximately 100 miles of planned CTC installation on the St. Croix Subdivision has now been completed. The last phase of the project is expected to finish next month. Once placed in service, more than 200 miles of our Twin Cities to Chicago main line will be operated under CTC.
Below is a look at the key operational performance categories for the week ending August 25:
Total trains held for the week increased by nearly 35 percent to an average of 69.4 versus 51.6 recorded the prior week.
Versus the same week last year: down by 70.3%
Versus the same week in 2013: down by 42.2%
Total trains on the system increased by more than one percent from the prior week with an average of 1,584 trains on the system.
Locomotive velocity, measured in miles per day (MPD), was 278.0, which is down by one percent from the prior week’s 280.9 MPD.
Locomotive dwell increased by slightly more than one percent from the prior week at 18.2 hours.
Car velocity was down by 1.5 percent at 214.0 MPD versus 217.2 MPD recorded the prior week.
Versus the same week last year: up by 18.6%
Versus the same week in 2013: up by 4.3%
Train velocity was down by nearly two percent from the prior week at 18.3 miles per hour.
Versus the same week last year: up by 25.3%
Versus the same week in 2013: up by 7.0%
Total volume was up by more than 2,700 loads with a year-to-date high of 207,908 units moved in Week 33 (ending August 22).
Terminal dwell was up by nearly two percent from the prior week at 25.0 hours.
Versus the same week last year: down by 11.3%
Versus the same week in 2013: up by 0.8%
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.