Intermodal: Making Progress in Restoring Normal Operations

Feb 26, 2021

BNSF teams are driving improved operational performance as favorable weather conditions returned across much of the BNSF network this week. As we have reported, an outbreak of record-breaking cold temperatures as well as heavy snow and ice accumulations created major service challenges during the past few weeks. The extended duration of these extreme conditions, and their reach deep into Texas last week, impacted our ability to maintain normal train operations.

As temperatures have moderated, we have been able to run longer trains, which helps ease the demands on our locomotive fleet and reduce delays. We have also generated significant gains in network velocity, fluidity, and in moving those trains forced to hold for an extended time due to weather-related issues. Through yesterday (February 25), average car velocity is up nearly 27% versus the prior seven-day period. Terminal dwell is down nearly 20% this week and has been reduced by more than 40% from a peak level recorded on February 16.

While weather conditions at many of our intermodal facilities have improved, we continue to experience processing delays due to equipment imbalances, chassis availability and increased inventory levels. Gate allocations are still being utilized at several of our intermodal hubs to ease congestion and help normalize equipment flows. We understand that actions such as limiting gate activity have an impact on your operations, and we greatly appreciate your cooperation and quick response as we work together to rebalance equipment flows.

We are fully utilizing off-site parking for both inbound and outbound shipments at our intermodal facilities to help with elevated inventories. Prompt pick-up of shipments and extending receiving windows will help improve traffic flows, reduce lot congestion and provide the space needed for processing inbound freight as quickly as possible.

BNSF has multiple tools available to customers to track shipments. We will continue to work closely with our carrier partners to keep the supply chain moving.

We are still confronting some ongoing challenges from heavy snow and high winds through the mountain passes in Washington and Montana. An avalanche occurred earlier this week on our primary Northern Transcon route through Montana, approximately 50 miles east of Whitefish. Both main tracks were out of service in the affected location for approximately 12 hours. Some trains have experienced delays due to snow clearing from main lines as well as avalanche mitigation activities.

BNSF operations personnel remain focused on safely restoring service to the level you expect from us. Thank you for your patience as these recovery efforts continue throughout our network.

As always, we appreciate your business and the opportunity to serve as your freight transportation provider.