BNSF Railway today disclosed a series of measures designed to avoid a repeat of the service problems it experienced during last winter's severe weather.
Among the operational changes is the creation of after-hours "rapid response" teams that will aid with snow removal across the northern segment of the BNSF network, which stretches from the western part of North Dakota to Chicago. The teams will comprise 300 maintenance-of-way employees who are traditionally furloughed during the winter season, BNSF said. The railroad's northern corridor, a critical segment of its network because of the vast and growing volume of crude-by-rail shipments coming from the region, faced perhaps the worst weather-related delays of any track segment in the country. As a result, BNSF received more criticism for weather-related service problems than did other railroads.
BNSF said it will add 800 trailer and container positions at its three Chicago-area intermodal facilities, a move designed to allow more containers to be staged when snowy conditions cause pickup and delivery delays for truckers bound for those locations. It also will install 150 rail-switch heaters at locations where remote-control switches in the past could freeze and fail in the extreme cold. New locomotives will be equipped with air dryers designed to reduce moisture that can build up in the braking system and shut down a train's operation, BNSF said.
The measures are being implemented throughout the fall, according to Amy Casas, a BNSF spokeswoman. Steps will be taken as needed to address winter weather concerns as they arise at specific locations, she said.
BNSF is a unit of the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. conglomerate run by investor and businessman Warren E. Buffett.