With the upcoming Christmas and New Year's holidays, this is our last network update in 2018. We will continue to update customers throughout the holidays on significant service interruptions that impact normal operating conditions.
Our next bi-weekly network update will be delivered on January 4, 2019. We wish all our customers a very safe and happy holiday season.
BNSF is moving strong volumes throughout the network during the late portion of the peak shipping season. Overall car and train velocity improved versus the previous week while the number of trains held was reduced by several trains. Weekly volume (week ending December 15) increased slightly over the prior week and represented a new year-to-date high at nearly 216,500 units. Total year-to-date volume now exceeds the full year volume moved by the railroad in each of the past 11 years.
With robust traffic moving into/out of intermodal facilities as well as several rail yards, particularly our Tulsa and Kansas City terminals, BNSF teams remain focused on relieving congestion and reducing dwell times. We are also currently addressing capacity challenges in the Houston complex and portions of the Gulf Coast involving plastics shipments. BNSF is working closely with impacted customers as we evaluate and implement service changes as necessary to help improve train flows.
The BNSF Engineering team has successfully completed their work as part of our 2018 capital plan. Earlier this week, crews placed into service nearly five miles of new double-track between Washougal and Mt. Pleasant, Washington on the Fallbridge Subdivision and a new connection at Dobbin, Texas between our Houston and Conroe Subdivisions. As we have reported, other major expansion projects this year included construction on the Southern Transcon of approximately 10 miles of new triple track between Belen and Dalies, New Mexico as well as more than five miles of new fourth main line in Amarillo.
Capital gangs also replaced more than 500 miles of rail, installed 2.8 million new rail ties and surfaced nearly 5,000 miles of track. BNSF is committed to maintaining a strong infrastructure to operate as safely and efficiently as possible. The railroad remains in the best condition it has ever been. We look forward to sharing the details of our 2019 capital plan in January.
Intermodal: Christmas and New Year's Operating Plan
Most of our intermodal hubs will observe normal working hours throughout the upcoming Christmas and New Year's holidays (see schedule here).
Connecting carriers who have reduced operations for the holidays may cause delays on interline traffic. Also, lighter traffic volumes and possible train consolidations for outbound and inbound intermodal shipments may result in delays of approximately 24 to 48 hours from Monday, December 24 through Thursday, January 3.
Customer Support will maintain a limited staff on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve until 6 p.m. CT. Standard coverage will resume at 6 a.m. CT on the Tuesday following each holiday.
Intermodal: Facilities Update
BNSF is experiencing elevated lot inventories at most of our Intermodal facilities. By working together to reduce the amount of time that your container/trailer dwells at a BNSF facility during this holiday period, 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.
Automotive: Christmas and New Year's Operating Plan
BNSF's Automotive 2018-2019 Christmas and New Year's operating plan will remain focused on meeting customers' expectations while matching operations to any reductions in traffic volumes. This year, BNSF will observe the Christmas holiday on Monday, December 24, and Tuesday, December 25, and the New Year's holiday on Monday, December 31, and Tuesday, January 1, 2019.
The number of trains operating on BNSF track is typically lower over the Christmas and New Year's holidays due to reduced freight volume. BNSF's Automotive 2018-2019 holiday operating plan will adjust operations to account for this potential reduction in traffic and possible train consolidations. As a result, shipments from Sunday, December 23, through Sunday, January 6, may experience delays of up to 48 hours. Connecting carriers who have reduced operations for the holidays may cause delays on interline traffic.
Automotive: Facility Operations
Most of our automotive facilities are experiencing high inventories due to elevated dwell, and we expect reduced haulaway eight of the next 12 days. BNSF would like to remind our customers during this holiday period that operations will continue 24/7, including on Christmas Day and New Year's Day if conditions warrant. As always, we appreciate your help in keeping our facilities fluid. For interactive tracking 365 days a year, please use BNSF's Tracking tool by logging in with your user name and password and selecting Auto Portal. For service issues, please call 888-428-2673.
Customer Support will maintain a limited staff on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve until 6 p.m. CT. Standard coverage will resume at 6 a.m. CT on the Wednesday following each holiday.
Service Expectations for the Week Ahead
Much of the BNSF network will experience favorable operating conditions during the Christmas week. An active weather pattern in the West will continue to bring some periods of heavy rain and mountain snows to the Pacific Northwest this weekend. As always, BNSF teams are monitoring conditions and are ready to quickly respond to any service disruptions.
Below is a look at the key operational performance categories for the week ending December 20:
Total trains held for the week decreased by nearly 10 percent with an average of 93.0 trains held versus 103.3 trains held during the prior week.
Versus the December 2017 average: down by 1.8%
Total trains on the system was essentially unchanged versus the prior week with an average of 1,620 trains on the system.
Versus the December 2017 average: up by 12.8%
Car velocity, measured in miles per day (MPD), was up by nearly two percent at 214.5 MPD versus 210.5 MPD recorded the prior week.
Versus the December 2017 average: down by 4.7%
Train velocity, measured in miles per hour (MPH), was up by nearly four percent versus the prior week at 18.2 MPH.
Versus the December 2017 average: down by 5.6%
Total volume was essentially unchanged from the prior week with 216,470 units moved in Week 50 (ending December 15) versus 216,237 units in Week 49 (ending December 8).
Terminal dwell was essentially unchanged versus the prior week at 26.3 hours.
Versus the December 2017 average: up by 9.4%
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.