Coal Network Update for Friday, July 23, 2021
BNSF operating teams remain engaged in comprehensive efforts to maximize productivity and achieve greater efficiencies throughout the network. We continue to address congestion issues at several facilities as well as deploy additional resources, including crews and locomotives, to handle traffic volumes.
As we reported, rail operations in Northern California, between Stockton and the Oregon state line, are currently suspended due to wildfires affecting multiple rail lines in the region. The Dixie Fire, which has now burned nearly 143,000 acres and is only 18% contained, continues to threaten main line track and bridges in the area around Keddie, California. Our fire train and associated personnel, in coordination with the Incident Command Center, have been active throughout the week. While no damage to BNSF infrastructure has yet been reported, conditions remain unpredictable as another major fire flared up during the past 24 hours.
BNSF fire train operating near Keddie, Calif. – July 21, 2021
Several trains continue to hold due to these fire-related outages. There is currently no estimate on when it will be safe for service through the area to resume. Some trains moving to/from the Pacific Northwest and Southern California are being re-routed through the central Rockies, including via our Northern and Southern Transcon routes, to reach destinations. This traffic re-routing will result in longer overall transit times by several days.
Regarding overall service performance, average car velocity was up slightly versus the prior week and essentially unchanged from the level for June. Terminal dwell also improved from last week, but the average remains higher than last month. Total volume rebounded strongly from the holiday week to exceed the 200,000-unit level for the 13th week in 2021.
Service Expectations for the Week Ahead
In addition to the ongoing wildfire activity in California, BNSF teams in the Desert Southwest are also monitoring the risk for heavy rain during the next several days. Flash flood watches are currently in effect across much of Arizona and into western New Mexico. BNSF teams will continue to address any track washouts and quickly restore service through affected locations along our Southern Transcon.
Capital gangs also remain active in various locations around the network during our peak season for track maintenance. Work windows scheduled in busy corridors are timed to minimize disruption to traffic flows as much as possible. These maintenance projects, including rail/tie replacement and track surfacing, are critical to ensuring the safety and fluidity of our 32,500-route mile network.
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.