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.
Interchange Traffic Challenges in Vancouver, BC Area
During the past several weeks, significant service issues have been reported in the Vancouver, British Columbia area. BNSF has worked closely with Canadian National (CN) to address congestion in this location. In response, BNSF has been accepting additional trains for interchange, including trains that are not already "blocked" according to destination. CN, however, implemented a permit embargo process on December 5, which affects some interchange traffic seeking to move to destinations on the BNSF network. BNSF is working directly with impacted customers regarding this permit embargo. We appreciate your patience as we continue to address this situation.
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.