The operation experienced steady overall performance this week with good fluidity reported across the network. Average velocity for cars was up slightly, but train and locomotive velocities were each down about one percent versus the previous week. While terminal dwell was also reduced from the prior week, the number of total trains held remains elevated versus the monthly average from last November.
Frigid temperatures across the Northern Corridor this week caused some delays on traffic operating from the Twin Cities through Montana. Below zero temperatures can create challenges for our trains' braking systems because of reduced air flow. To compensate for that reduction, we implemented restrictions on the length of some of our trains and equipped them with distributed power, which creates two sources of air flow throughout a train. Most of these length restrictions are set to expire this afternoon with improving conditions in the region.
Some service disruptions also resulted from maintenance activity in several areas, including on our busy Aurora Subdivision northwest of Chicago on Monday. BNSF crews were also active on our Bellingham Subdivision in Washington where a 16-hour work window was required for signal and track cutover work associated with nearly six miles of new double-track, scheduled to be placed in-service in December, that will improve traffic flows to and from British Columbia.
Get the Latest Ag News in Sam Sexhus' Podcast
In this week's audio podcast, BNSF Group Vice President of Agricultural Products Sam Sexhus gives a network update. Please note, because of the Thanksgiving Day holiday and Sam Sexhus' work travel schedule, the next podcast will be on December 15.
Thanksgiving Holiday Operating Plan
Throughout the Thanksgiving holiday, BNSF will remain focused on keeping the grain network performing to meet demand. BNSF will observe the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, November 23 and Friday, November 24. With Thanksgiving Day as a shuttle holiday, impacted customers may request to move official spot times:
Customers with empty trains arriving at the loading facility after 12 p.m. Wednesday, November 22, may elect to move their official spot time to 6 a.m. Friday, November 24. During this time frame, trains may be loaded if desired.
Customers with loaded trains arriving at an unload facility after 6 p.m. Wednesday, November 22, may elect to move their official spot time to 6 a.m. Friday, November 24. During this time frame, trains may be unloaded if desired.
Whether empty or loaded, customers who elect to move their spot time must contact BNSF Grain Operations at least eight hours in advance and advise of their intentions for train, power and crew planning purposes.
There is no allowance for the Friday after Thanksgiving. Origination Efficiency Payment (OEP) or Destination Efficiency Payment (DEP) will be lost if customer(s) elect to operate outside of these allowances.
Service Expectations for the Week Ahead
Heavy rain and mountain snows are likely across the western half of our Northern Corridor during the next several days. BNSF's Northwest and Montana Division operations teams are monitoring closely and will implement winter action plans as necessary to address any impacted subdivisions. Other areas of the BNSF network will experience favorable operating conditions during the upcoming week.
November 11 is recognized as Veterans Day in the United States and Remembrance Day in Canada, and we want to acknowledge all those who have served their country in uniform. At BNSF, we employ nearly 8,000 veterans. We honor their service, the sacrifices they have made, and we are proud to have them as teammates at BNSF.
Below is a look at the key operational performance categories for the week ending November 9:
Total trains held for the week increased by nearly 14 percent with an average 87.7 trains held versus 77.3 trains held during the prior week.
Versus the November 2016 average: up by 45.2%
Total trains on the system was up by nearly one percent versus the prior week with an average of 1,520 trains on the system.
Versus the November 2016 average: up by 6.1%
Locomotive velocity, measured in miles per day (MPD), was 277.2, which is down by nearly one percent from the 279.3 MPD recorded the prior week.
Versus the November 2016 average: down by 8.5%
Car velocity was up by nearly one percent at 221.8 MPD versus 220.2 MPD recorded the prior week.
Versus the November 2016 average: down by 4.0%
Train velocity, measured in miles per hour (MPH), was down by nearly two percent versus the prior week at 18.7 MPH.
Versus the November 2016 average: down by 5.1%
Total volume was down by more than two percent from the prior week with 196,430 units moved in Week 44 (ending November 4) versus 200,995 units in Week 43 (ending October 28).
Terminal dwell was down by nearly one percent versus the prior week at 24.6 hours.
Versus the November 2016 average: down by 1.0%
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.
Note: With the upcoming Thanksgiving and Day after Thanksgiving holidays, the next bi-weekly network update will be delivered on Friday, December 1, 2017. We wish all of our customers and their families a very happy Thanksgiving.