Coal Network Update for Friday, April 29, 2022
BNSF continues to implement an aggressive service recovery program to generate velocity and fluidity improvement across the network. Our operating teams remain focused on making temporary car inventory reductions as well as increasing locomotive and crew availability. While we have confronted ongoing challenges this month on a significant portion of our Northern Corridor, incremental progress is being made in alleviating congestion and improving terminal throughput in several areas as we strive to return to normal service levels as soon as possible.
Another major winter storm impacted the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, eastern Montana, and western North Dakota earlier this week. With blizzard conditions resulting in widespread road closures and power outages, many trains in the region were forced to hold as crew movements were affected. Winter Action Plans were activated to ensure the safety of our workforce and that resources were in place to address service disruptions caused by the severe weather. BNSF crews deployed generators to multiple locations, positioned snow plowing equipment to clear main lines as well as utilized snow coaches to transport train crews. We also hired contractors in North Dakota to clear snow-covered roads and expedite their reopening for crew movements.
Regarding our key service metrics, overall car velocity was down by about 1% versus the prior reporting week. However, as the operating environment in the Northern Plains has improved, we have generated significantly higher average velocity, nearly 20% better yesterday versus the beginning of the week. While still at an elevated level, terminal dwell was reduced by nearly 4% and down more than 7% from the average for March. Our local service compliance measure slightly improved while total volume increased by more than 4% from the prior week.
We also experienced a fire last Saturday on our main line running between La Junta, Colo. and Amarillo, TX, which completely burned a wooden bridge approximately 12 miles northwest of Amarillo. Multiple trains were rerouted as engineering crews worked around the clock to construct a new concrete and steel structure. The work was completed by Wednesday afternoon and normal operations on the line have been fully restored.
Service Expectations for the Week Ahead
High winds are expected at times, particularly across the Southwest, as storm systems track east across the network during the upcoming week. When winds reach speeds of 50 miles per hour or more, trains must operate at reduced speed for safety. As highlighted here, BNSF crews are able to utilize a mobile app to assess wind conditions in real time.
With severe or extreme drought in many areas, we also continue to monitor the high risk for wildfire activity. We will continue to deploy our firefighting trains and other resources to prevent fires as well as respond to any flareups that threaten BNSF infrastructure.
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.