With the upcoming Christmas and New Year's holidays, this is our last network update in 2018. We will continue to update customers throughout the holidays on significant service interruptions that impact normal operating conditions.
Our next bi-weekly network update will be delivered on January 4, 2019. We wish all our customers a very safe and happy holiday season.
BNSF is moving strong volumes throughout the network during the late portion of the peak shipping season. Overall car and train velocity improved versus the previous week while the number of trains held was reduced by several trains. Weekly volume (week ending December 15) increased slightly over the prior week and represented a new year-to-date high at nearly 216,500 units. Total year-to-date volume now exceeds the full year volume moved by the railroad in each of the past 11 years.
With robust traffic moving into/out of intermodal facilities as well as several rail yards, particularly our Tulsa and Kansas City terminals, BNSF teams remain focused on relieving congestion and reducing dwell times. We are also currently addressing capacity challenges in the Houston complex and portions of the Gulf Coast involving plastics shipments. BNSF is working closely with impacted customers as we evaluate and implement service changes as necessary to help improve train flows.
The BNSF Engineering team has successfully completed their work as part of our 2018 capital plan. Earlier this week, crews placed into service nearly five miles of new double-track between Washougal and Mt. Pleasant, Washington on the Fallbridge Subdivision and a new connection at Dobbin, Texas between our Houston and Conroe Subdivisions. As we have reported, other major expansion projects this year included construction on the Southern Transcon of approximately 10 miles of new triple track between Belen and Dalies, New Mexico as well as more than five miles of new fourth main line in Amarillo.
Capital gangs also replaced more than 500 miles of rail, installed 2.8 million new rail ties and surfaced nearly 5,000 miles of track. BNSF is committed to maintaining a strong infrastructure to operate as safely and efficiently as possible. The railroad remains in the best condition it has ever been. We look forward to sharing the details of our 2019 capital plan in January.
Christmas and New Year's Operating Plan
Carload and local terminal service will not be curtailed during the upcoming holidays, however, BNSF plans to minimize the number of yard, local and road-switch assignments at terminals on Christmas Day, December 25, and New Year's Day, January 1, if specifically advised by customers that service will not be needed. Connecting carriers who have reduced operations for the holidays may cause delays on interline traffic.
Customer Support will maintain a limited staff on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve until 6 p.m. CT. Standard coverage will resume at 6 a.m. CT on the Tuesday following each holiday.
Eagle Pass Interchange Operations
All interchange operations between BNSF and FXE at the Eagle Pass, TX border gateway will be suspended beginning at 12 p.m. CT on Christmas Eve through Christmas Day. Normal operations will resume at 12:01 a.m. CT on Wednesday, December 26. Interchange operations on both New Year's Eve and New Year's Day will operate according to normal schedules.
Service Expectations for the Week Ahead
Much of the BNSF network will experience favorable operating conditions during the Christmas week. An active weather pattern in the West will continue to bring some periods of heavy rain and mountain snows to the Pacific Northwest this weekend. As always, BNSF teams are monitoring conditions and are ready to quickly respond to any service disruptions.
Below is a look at the key operational performance categories for the week ending December 20:
Total trains held for the week decreased by nearly 10 percent with an average of 93.0 trains held versus 103.3 trains held during the prior week.
Versus the December 2017 average: down by 1.8%
Total trains on the system was essentially unchanged versus the prior week with an average of 1,620 trains on the system.
Versus the December 2017 average: up by 12.8%
Car velocity, measured in miles per day (MPD), was up by nearly two percent at 214.5 MPD versus 210.5 MPD recorded the prior week.
Versus the December 2017 average: down by 4.7%
Train velocity, measured in miles per hour (MPH), was up by nearly four percent versus the prior week at 18.2 MPH.
Versus the December 2017 average: down by 5.6%
Total volume was essentially unchanged from the prior week with 216,470 units moved in Week 50 (ending December 15) versus 216,237 units in Week 49 (ending December 8).
Terminal dwell was essentially unchanged versus the prior week at 26.3 hours.
Versus the December 2017 average: up by 9.4%
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.