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BNSF 2014-2015 Winter Preparations and Plans
Dear BNSF Customer,
• To prepare and position snow removal equipment and supplies.
• To be positioned to quickly add manpower, equipment and supplies to address and recover from service interruptions caused by severe winter weather.
Winter Plans in Place for 12 BNSF Divisions
Each year, BNSF's 12 operating divisions review their winter action plans to ensure that resources and procedures are in place to address extreme winter conditions. During this review process, teams examine the current procedures, priorities and responsibilities to determine whether adjustments are needed based on past experience and each division's unique winter climate. Given the extremes endured last winter, the teams evaluated this year's plans with the benefit of that experience. Once those reviews were completed, the winter action plans were finalized and divisional command centers are now staffed with key personnel ready to activate plans 24 hours a day, seven days per week. BNSF is ready to act if weather conditions warrant. Each BNSF division has completed the following:
In addition to establishing winter action procedures, each division supports prepping locomotives for seasonal extremes. Preparing our locomotives to withstand winter weather helps keep trains moving so our customers get their products even during harsh conditions.
We prepare our locomotives for winter weather by stabilizing their operating temperatures by transferring more heat to locomotive engines to prevent freezing. This process starts in the northern part of our network in October and our operating teams work their way south by November.
To prevent a locomotive engine from freezing, they are designed to continue running once the outside temperature reaches 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Additionally, when fuel levels are low, a sensor on the locomotive alerts the operator and remote dispatchers that the locomotive needs to be refueled to prevent the engine from stopping and creating mechanical problems due to low temperatures.
BNSF has 148 rapid responders in 37 key locations that are cross-trained to resolve car and locomotive issues 24 hours a day, seven days a week year around. The vast majority of these responders are located in the upper Midwest where the operation experiences the lowest temperatures and a higher likelihood of ice and snow accumulation.
Additional Steps This Year - What's New
In reviewing last winter's service interruptions, we have added several new resources to support our operation. These resources include:
• Establishing after-hours 'track' rapid response teams to assist with snow removal across the northern part of our network, by keeping on more than 300 additional maintenance of way employees who are traditionally furloughed during the winter season. We have also established similar after-hours teams on key corridors across the central region.
• Installing an additional 150 switch heaters at locations that previously did not have protection from cold temperatures (bringing our total network count to nearly 3,000) to ensure remote controlled rail switches do not freeze and fail during extreme cold.
• Installing air dryers on all new locomotives to help reduce moisture that can accumulate in the braking system. Brake lines that freeze prevent a train from operating until ice can be removed.
• Acquiring additional snow removal equipment with the most significant acquisitions being two industrial-size snow blowers that will be dedicated to keeping Hub Facilities in Chicago free of snow and ice.
As always, we thank you for your business and appreciate the opportunity to serve as your transportation service provider.
Executive Vice President and
Chief Marketing Officer