Agricultural Products Network Update for Friday, November 18, 2022

Nov 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.

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.

This year, BNSF will observe the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, November 24, and Friday, November 25. Throughout the holiday, BNSF will remain focused on keeping the Grain Network performing to meet demand.

With Thanksgiving Day as a shuttle holiday, impacted customers may request to move official spot times:

Empty Shuttles
Customers with empty trains arriving at the loading facility after 12 p.m., Wednesday, November 23, may elect to move their official spot time to 6 a.m., Friday, November 25. During this time frame, trains may be loaded if desired.

Loaded Shuttles
Customers with loaded trains arriving at an unload facility after 6 p.m., Wednesday, November 23, may elect to move their official spot time to 6 a.m., Friday, November 25. During this time frame, trains may be unloaded if desired.

Whether empty or loaded, customers who elect to move their spot time must contact BNSF Grain Operations at least eight hours in advance and advise of their intentions for train, power, and crew planning purposes.

There is no allowance for the Friday after Thanksgiving. Origination Efficiency Payment (OEP) or Destination Efficiency Payment (DEP) will be lost if customer(s) elect to operate outside of these allowances. Please refer to Demurrage Tariff 6004-C to review the free time and charges for Thanksgiving – November 24-25, 2022. 

Train service will not be curtailed due to the holiday; however, BNSF plans to minimize the number of yard, local, and road-switch assignments at terminals during the holiday consistent with customer activity and volume demand. Connecting carriers who have reduced operations for the holiday may cause delays on interline traffic.

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.