Intermodal Network Update for Friday, September 3, 2021
BNSF operating teams have generated improved performance this week while confronting significant service challenges from Hurricane Ida as well as the ongoing wildfires in California. While many areas in Louisiana remain impacted by power outages and flooding, our main line running between Houston and New Orleans returned to full operation on Wednesday. In New Orleans, interchange operations with Norfolk Southern and New Orleans Public Belt Railroad have resumed during daytime hours, while traffic designated for interchange with either CSX or Canadian National remains under embargo.
The Dixie Fire, which has now burned more than 865,000 acres and is 55% contained, continues to threaten portions of our main line north of Keddie, California. Rail service through northern California remains extremely limited, with a small number of trains permitted to run on an alternate route west of the fire zone. Most affected traffic is being re-routed on longer routes further east. Customers with shipments between the Pacific Northwest and California will continue to experience longer transit times by several days until repairs to damaged infrastructure are completed and service can safely resume through the area.
Our continued focus throughout the network remains on alleviating congestion at some facilities as well as maximizing resource productivity. Regarding key service metrics, overall car velocity increased slightly versus the prior week as well as the average level for July. Average terminal dwell was reduced by more than two percent from last week, and our local service compliance measure remains above 90 percent.
Labor Day Operating Plan
BNSF will continue to operate Intermodal trains over the Labor Day holiday. However, due to lighter volumes of traffic and possible train consolidations, we anticipate that outbound and inbound shipments from Monday, September 6 through Wednesday, September 8 may experience delays of up to 24 hours. Connecting carriers who have reduced operations for the holiday may cause delays on interline traffic. Customer Support will maintain a limited staff on Labor Day. Normal coverage will resume on Tuesday, September 7.
Since holiday weekends typically result in greater dwell percentages, we ask customers to pay special attention to de-ramped shipments this weekend. Prompt pick-up of shipments that have been unloaded at our intermodal facilities will help improve traffic flows, reduce lot congestion and provide the space needed for processing inbound freight as expeditiously as possible. All BNSF intermodal hubs will observe normal working hours during the holiday period, and we encourage customers to utilize our suite of Web and mobile tools to track shipments.
Service Expectations for the Week Ahead
Most of the BNSF network will experience favorable operating conditions for much of the holiday week, with no major outbreaks of severe weather currently anticipated. While still very active, fire conditions in the West are expected to moderate with light winds across affected areas into early next week.
Maintenance activity remains in full swing across our network. Major projects, involving rail/tie replacement and track surfacing, are ongoing in several areas, particularly portions of our Northern Transcon route in Montana, Idaho and Washington. Along this busy corridor, daily work windows will continue to be scheduled and timed to minimize disruption to traffic flows as much as possible.