The BNSF network is currently running well with no major service interruptions. Car velocity was up versus the previous week as well as versus the average for October. Average terminal dwell increased slightly but remains steady with last month’s level. We also reported the highest weekly volume of the year to date (week ending November 14) at nearly 205,000 units. This is the fourth week in 2020 where total volume on the network exceeded the robust 200,000-unit level, which have all occurred in the past six weeks.
With elevated demand for agricultural products, our Northern Transcon between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest remains busy. Freight traffic is also heavy on our Southern Transcon, between Chicago and Southern California, driven by strong intermodal shipment demand. Operating teams continue to make adjustments to align resources as effectively as possible to maintain strong productivity and fluidity along these corridors.
As some communities report escalating COVID-19 cases, BNSF continues to take the necessary precautions to protect the health and safety of our employees and contractors. We have reinforced adherence to proper safety protocols and deployed a new online tool for self-reporting exposure to COVID-19. BNSF facilities and locomotives have been subject to enhanced cleaning routines and disinfecting procedures since March.
In California, where a “Limited Stay at Home” order takes effect in many counties starting tomorrow, railroad employees remain exempt as part of the state’s Critical Infrastructure workforce. While the outbreak in California and other states has recently worsened, we have well-established plans to ensure that rail operations are maintained throughout the network.
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 26 and Friday, November 27.
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 25, may elect to move their official spot time to 6 a.m. Friday, November 27. 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 25, may elect to move their official spot time to 6 a.m. Friday, November 27. 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.
Carload Train Service
Train service will not be curtailed due to the holiday; however, BNSF plans to minimize the number of yard, local and road-switch assignments at terminals during the holiday consistent with customer activity and volume demand. Connecting carriers who have reduced operations may cause delays on interline traffic.
For interactive tracking 365 days a year, please use BNSF’s Tracking tool by logging in with your user name and password and selecting Track Your Shipment. For service issues, please call 888-428-2673.
Customer Support and Grain Operations will maintain a limited staff on Thanksgiving Day and Friday, November 27. Normal coverage will resume on Saturday, November 28.
Service Expectations for the Week Ahead
Favorable operating conditions are expected across much of the network. While no major winter storms are forecasted at this time, we are monitoring the risk for some strong winds and snow in the higher elevations of the interior Pacific Northwest during the first half of the holiday week. As always, BNSF operating teams will make adjustments as necessary to support safe operations.