Automotive Network Update for Friday, November 18, 2022
With the upcoming Thanksgiving and Day after Thanksgiving holidays, our next bi-weekly Network Update will be delivered on December 2, 2022. We will continue to update customers throughout the holiday on significant service interruptions that impact normal operating conditions.
BNSF operating teams remain focused on aligning resources with traffic flows as efficiently as possible as we head into the peak shipping season. So far, we have achieved about 80% of our hiring goal, which calls for 1,800 train crew personnel, as well as 1,200 new personnel on our Engineering, Mechanical, and Dispatcher teams. Approximately 200 new train crew employees will complete their training within the next few days.
On Tuesday, a derailment occurred on our Northern Transcon, approximately 45 miles east of Fargo, North Dakota. Trains were rerouted while BNSF teams and contractors completed track repairs. Service was restored to the impacted track by Wednesday afternoon, and traffic flows continue to normalize through the area.
BNSF crews responded to several cold weather-induced service challenges on our network this week, including repairs to a portion of our single main line track at Sibley Bridge, approximately 25 miles northeast of Kansas City on our Southern Transcon.
Cold temperatures are expected over much of the network through the weekend. Wind chill advisories are in place for parts of the Northern and Central Plains today, as wind gusts, up to 55 mph in some areas, drop temperatures into the negative digits. Train length restrictions have been implemented in some areas due to these extreme cold temperatures. High winds are expected in parts of Northern and Southern California today, increasing the risk for wildfire activity. BNSF teams are actively monitoring conditions across the network, and each of our operating divisions is prepared to implement procedures to minimize any service disruptions caused by severe weather.
LABOR BARGAINING UPDATE
Earlier this week, the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (IBB), representing approximately 300 rail employees out of the more than 100,000 involved in the rail industry's bargaining round, failed to ratify its recent tentative agreement. The IBB previously agreed to maintain a cooling-off period until December 9 if the tentative agreement was not ratified. As such, the failed ratification does not present the imminent risk of any strike or job action taken by IBB and the potential for any resulting service disruptions.
As we reported, tentative agreements, which implemented the recommendations from the Presidential Emergency Board (PEB), were reached with all 12 of the unions, and seven unions have ratified their agreements. Three unions, including the IBB, have declined to ratify the tentative agreements. On November 21, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers – Transportation Division (SMART-TD), the two largest rail unions representing conductors and engineers, will conclude their ratification processes and announce their vote. Combined, these two unions represent approximately half of all unionized rail employees.
BNSF and the other railroads will remain engaged with the three unions who declined to ratify the tentative agreements throughout the extended cooling-off period, seeking an agreement based on the framework recommended by the PEB to avoid interruption to rail service.
We will continue to provide you with updates. If you have any questions, please contact your marketing representative.
THANKSGIVING OPERATING PLAN
BNSF's Automotive Thanksgiving operating plan will remain focused on meeting customers' expectations while matching operations to rail volumes. This year, BNSF will observe the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, November 24, and Friday, November 25.
BNSF will operate automotive trains over the Thanksgiving holiday, and our automotive facilities will remain fully staffed and open for haulaway during normally scheduled hours. Connecting carriers who have reduced operations for the holiday may cause delays on interline traffic. Due to lighter traffic volumes over the holiday, we anticipate some extending of our service schedules as we consolidate volumes to fill trains. We expect shipments arriving from Wednesday, November 23, through Monday, November 28, may experience delays of up to 48 hours.
Customer Support will maintain a limited staff on Thanksgiving Day and Friday, November 25. Normal coverage will resume on Saturday, November 26.
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.