BNSF operating teams are moving robust peak season volumes throughout the network. The previous reporting week (week ending December 8) represented our highest level of the year to date as we moved more than 216,000 units. While relatively steady with the prior week, overall car and train velocity has improved since the Thanksgiving holiday. Both terminal dwell and the number of trains held remain elevated versus previous December levels.
An active weather pattern in the western U.S. has been responsible for frequent winter storm activity across the higher elevations of our Northern Transcon route from Washington through Montana. Some locations in northwestern Montana experienced multiple blizzard warnings this week and received more than a foot of snow. Despite the heavy snowfall and high winds across the Cascades and northern Rockies this week, normal traffic flows were maintained through the area with no significant service interruptions.
As we have reported, BNSF's winter action plans are focused around three critical areas: safety, service and efficiency. To operate safely through a challenging mountainous section of Glacier National Park in Montana, BNSF maintains an avalanche safety program to assess conditions and advise of any operating risks. This section covers about six miles east and west of Essex, Montana, on the south side of the park, a remote area with 12 major avalanche-prone paths and 26 different slide-starting zones. BNSF's "Rail Talk" includes a new video profile of our "Avalanche Team" and the critical support they provide to help keep our employees safe and our customers' shipments moving to their destinations.
January Service Changes in the Southern California to Chicago Lane
As we notified earlier this week, BNSF is making schedule changes in January affecting some intermodal shipments moving between Southern California and Chicago. Beginning Monday January 21, 2019, Premium Container Service freight currently moving between Los Angeles, CA and BNSF's Corwith (Chicago) Intermodal Facility will move between Los Angeles and BNSF's Logistics Park Chicago (LPC) Intermodal Facility. This change enhances terminal capacity for these growing markets and continues to provide multiple service outlets throughout the week. For specific schedule details, click here. BNSF will continue its seven-day-a-week container service between San Bernardino, Calif. and the Corwith (Chicago) Intermodal Facility. Please contact your BNSF representative with any questions regarding these changes.
Chicago Area Intermodal Facilities Update
BNSF is currently experiencing elevated lot inventories at our Chicago area Intermodal facilities. As always, we would like to emphasize the importance of picking up a container/trailer that has been unloaded in a timely manner as well as dropping off units for loading in correct locations. By working together to reduce the amount of time that your container/trailer dwells at a BNSF facility, we can improve overall traffic flow and lift capabilities to support growth. BNSF offers multiple ways to track shipments: click here for more information on the tools available.
Service Expectations for the Week Ahead
While much of BNSF network will experience favorable operating conditions during the next several days, periods of heavy rain and mountain snows are expected in the Pacific Northwest through mid-week. As always, BNSF teams are monitoring conditions and are ready to quickly respond to any service disruptions caused by severe weather.
Below is a look at the key operational performance categories for the week ending December 13:
Total trains held for the week increased by more than 14 percent with an average of 103.6 trains held versus 90.6 trains held during the prior week.
Versus the December 2017 average: up by 9.4%
Total trains on the system was up by more than three percent versus the prior week with an average of 1,629 trains on the system.
Versus the December 2017 average: up by 13.5%
Car velocity, measured in miles per day (MPD), was down by less than one percent at 210.1 MPD versus 211.2 MPD recorded the prior week.
Versus the December 2017 average: down by 6.6%
Train velocity, measured in miles per hour (MPH), was down by nearly two percent versus the prior week at 17.7 MPH.
Versus the December 2017 average: down by 8.5%
Total volume was up by nearly one percent from the prior week with 216,237 units moved in Week 49 (ending December 8) versus 214,630 units in Week 48 (ending December 1).
Terminal dwell was up by nearly four percent versus the prior week at 26.2 hours.
Versus the December 2017 average: up by 9.3%
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.