Extreme winter weather in the northern Plains and upper Midwest this week, and throughout the month of February, has continued to present significant challenges to the BNSF operation. Record-breaking snowfall and frigid temperatures from Montana to Wisconsin have remained a near-constant obstacle for BNSF operating teams working aggressively to normalize service in the region. For many locations across Montana and North Dakota, temperatures have averaged several degrees below zero in February, making it one of the coldest months on record. Frequent snowfall has also set records, with more than three feet of snow received in the Twin Cities.
This short video highlights the conditions being confronted by our Twin Cities Division, including at our Northtown terminal in Minneapolis, and how our teams are responding.
Key performance indicators reflect the negative impact of these repeated winter storm events on the overall network. Car and train velocity as well as terminal dwell continue to run below average levels from the previous February. The number of trains held increased versus the prior week and remains elevated.
The Arctic cold across much of our North Region has been particularly taxing on our locomotive fleet due to the challenge of generating proper air flow through trains. With train length restrictions and the need for more power, BNSF is in the process of deploying additional locomotives from our reserve fleet, a significant number of which are already back in service. We have also re-positioned managers from other areas of the network to assist in the most critical locations.
In the South Region, we have also experienced winter storm activity along areas of our Southern Transcon. Flagstaff, Arizona received nearly three feet of snow last Thursday, an all-time daily record. Despite the heavy snowfall, there were no significant service interruptions. This short video highlights the work of our Southwest Division teams to keep trains moving throughout the storm.
With heavy rainfall and mountain snows in northern California, a washout as well as a rock slide were reported Tuesday on our trackage rights line at Pulga, CA, approximately 95 miles north of Sacramento. Service was restored last night, and trains are moving again in both directions through this location. Customers with shipments moving between the Pacific Northwest and California should expect lingering delays until traffic flows fully normalize through the weekend.
BNSF recognizes the impact that gate restrictions and performance in/out of our Chicago area hubs have had on your supply chain and operations. The actions taken were necessary to reset operations impacted by prolonged severe weather that has persisted beyond the Chicago area and has reached across the network. Those actions have positioned us to resume normal operations in Chicago next week without restrictions.
To help keep conditions optimal at all intermodal facilities, implementation of BNSF's new parking policy begins today. As announced earlier this month, Hub personnel will begin identifying trucking partners who do not follow parking instructions printed on their J1 Interchange receipts. Drivers who are unable to park according to the instructions may park in a nearby space and update their location through BNSF's RailPASS Mobile App, or by alerting the DAB (Driver Assistance Building). Drivers who block nearby parking stalls, roadways or aisles could be kept from entering a facility on their next visit.
Additionally, we have had instances where drivers are intentionally hitting gates, cutting locks and committing other acts of vandalism. Drivers who repeatedly violate parking instructions or vandalize our facilities will face temporary or permanent access restrictions from those facilities.
If you have any questions regarding your shipment(s), please contact BNSF Customer Support at 1-888-428-2673.
Service Expectations for the Week Ahead
Much of the Northern Corridor will continue to experience frigid operating conditions during the upcoming week. As another winter storm moves through the central Plains this weekend, heavy snow is possible across parts of Kansas and Missouri. Temperatures are also expected to drop into the single digits as far south as Oklahoma City to begin the first week of March. BNSF teams are working around the clock to address any disruptions and keep trains moving as safely and efficiently as possible.
Below is a look at the key operational performance categories for the week ending February 28:
Total trains held for the week increased by more than 21 percent with an average of 171.4 trains held versus 141.6 trains held during the prior week.
Versus the February 2018 average: up by 26.3%
Total trains on the system was up by less than one percent versus the prior week with an average of 1,532 trains on the system.
Versus the February 2018 average: up by 8.2%
Car velocity, measured in miles per day (MPD), was down by more than five percent at 176.9 MPD versus 186.5 MPD recorded the prior week.
Versus the February 2018 average: down by 16.0%
Train velocity, measured in miles per hour (MPH), was down by nearly four percent versus the prior week at 15.5 MPH.
Versus the February 2018 average: down by 12.8%
Total volume increased by more than one percent from the prior week with 196,856 units moved in Week 8 (ending February 23) versus 194,369 units in Week 7 (ending February 16).
Terminal dwell was essentially unchanged versus the prior week at 29.0 hours.
Versus the February 2018 average: up by 10.3%
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.