Network Update for Friday, January 20, 2017
The operation experienced steady overall velocity this week while we continue to address significant train delays and service disruptions caused by extreme winter weather in the Pacific Northwest. While temperatures have warmed back to normal levels across much of the Northern Corridor, significant rain, snow and ice from Washington to northern California has impacted train flows to and from these areas. As a result, terminal dwell and the number of trains holding remains elevated due primarily to these unfavorable operating conditions.
As we reported, our busy Fallbridge Subdivision, which runs between Pasco and Vancouver, Washington, was forced out of service on Wednesday as some locations received nearly an inch of ice. The heavy ice buildup downed approximately 50 trees on portions of our main line.
BNSF teams worked nearly nonstop to clear these blockages as well as place 30 generators in locations without power. They also addressed damaged signals, cleared debris from tunnels and repaired several slide fences. Thanks to their aggressive efforts, service on the subdivision was restored yesterday evening, and train flows through this area are expected to normalize through the weekend.
2017 BNSF Capital Plan
BNSF announced our 2017 capital plan this week which, similar to last year’s plan, is focused on keeping our railroad infrastructure in top condition. The approximately $3.4 billion plan will ensure that we continue to operate a safe and reliable rail network while meeting the future needs of our customers. This year’s maintenance program will include approximately 20,000 miles of track surfacing and/or undercutting work and the replacement of about 600 miles of rail and nearly three million rail ties. Our capital gangs began their work last week and maintenance activity on the network will increase in the spring.
The plan also includes $400 million for expansion projects, $100 million for continued implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) and $400 million for locomotives, freight cars and other equipment acquisitions. We will provide further details on the key line capacity and maintenance projects in subsequent updates throughout the year.
Rollout of New BNSF Coal Forecasting Tool Begins
As part of our ongoing efforts to improve the customer experience, we have begun the implementation of the new BNSF Coal Forecasting Tool (CFT). This new tool will enable BNSF utilities and mines to easily provide more accurate forecasting. During this transition period, we are training utilities and mines on the use of the new tool, which will eventually replace the current BNSF Coal Forecasting Tool. We will provide additional updates on the BNSF CFT as we expect to complete this transition by the end of April.
Service Expectations for the Week Ahead
Another strong storm will move into the West Coast this weekend with heavy rain possible for northern Arizona and southern California, including the Los Angeles area, and heavy snow in the higher elevations. High winds are also likely across portions of our Southern Transcon through the desert Southwest. This same storm will bring significant snow and blizzard conditions to a portion of the northern Plains and the Upper Midwest on Tuesday. With a shift in this active weather pattern during the latter half of the upcoming week, much of the BNSF network should experience generally favorable operating conditions with no significant service interruptions due to severe weather expected.
Below is a look at the key operational performance categories for the week ending January 19:
Total trains held for the week increased by nearly 18 percent with an average 80.4 trains held versus 68.4 trains held during the prior week.
Versus the January 2016 average: up by 138.7%
Total trains on the system was up by four percent with an average of 1,364 trains on the system versus 1,311 trains during the prior week.
Locomotive velocity, measured in miles per day (MPD), was 289.5, which is up by nearly three percent from the 282.6 MPD recorded the prior week.
Versus the January 2016 average: up by 1.2%
Car velocity increased by nearly two percent at 211.9 MPD versus 208.5 MPD recorded the prior week.
Versus the January 2016 average: down by 7.3%
Train velocity, measured in miles per hour (MPH), was essentially unchanged from the prior week at 18.8 MPH.
Versus the January 2016 average: down by 15.5%
Total volume was up by more than 17 percent from the prior week with 193,308 units moved in Week 2 (ending January 14) versus 165,050 units in Week 1 (ending January 7), which included the New Year’s Day holiday.
Terminal dwell was up by nearly seven percent from the prior week at 29.1 hours.
Versus the January 2016 average: up by 18.3%
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.