Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Hurricane shuts down SE Texas rail lines

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BNSF staff are shown at the railroad's command center during Hurricane Harvey. BNSF staff are shown at the railroad's command center during Hurricane Harvey. BNSF Railway

Railroads serving Houston and the surrounding region have suspended service as heavy rain and flooding following Hurricane Harvey continues to rake the region.

“Widespread flooding in the greater Houston area caused by Tropical Storm Harvey is causing major disruptions to BNSF service and operations in the region,” the railroad said in an advisory to customers. Some locations have received nearly 40 inches of rain and several more inches are expected.

All traffic to and from Houston was suspended amid multiple washouts and high water reported on BNSF main lines in the area. “Other area rail lines, including those with BNSF trackage rights, have also been forced out of service,” the company said.

All operations were suspended at BNSF Houston-area yards and facilities, including Pearland Intermodal and Automotive facilities.

The railroad, headquartered in Fort Worth, said stretches of interstate highways in the Houston area remain closed. “Our 24/7 Command Center remains in frequent communication with local, state and federal emergency personnel to evaluate conditions and determine when operations can safely resume.”

BNSF crews planned to conduct an aerial assessment Monday to determine the extent of damage and flooding to main lines. “With additional flooding likely during the next few days, normal train flows in the area may not resume for an extended period. Customers should expect continued delays on shipments scheduled to move through the area.”

Union Pacific on its website also advised rail operations along the Gulf Coast from Brownsville, Texas to Lake Charles, La., are suspended due to high water and storm damage. More rain is expected to the northeast, affecting additional areas in Louisiana.

The carrier embargoed all rail traffic destined to stations on the Gulf Coast and inland within its Houston Service Unit. “Customers should consider diverting cars destined to the impacted area where feasible,” it said.

“At this time, we have stopped the flow of traffic through the flooded and storm-damaged areas. Where accessible, we continue to inspect our tracks in anticipation of resuming operations. While we are doing all we can to mitigate the effects of the storm, the safety of our employees is our primary focus. We will continue to monitor conditions and provide updates as they are available.”

For customers, Union Pacific set up a Hurricane Hotline at 800-365-6963.

Kansas City Southern Railway said lane closures between Kendleton (Houston) and Laredo, Texas, resulted in a Force Majeure being declared for KCSR and its Mexican subsidiary.

The railroad so far has not been able to assess damage to its network, adding there are additional flood warnings for the eastern Gulf Region including Port Arthur and Beaumont, Texas, and Lake Charles, La.

“We continue to monitor the current weather, the forecast and our network and are working closely with our rail partners to have a plan in place for possible detours should they be needed once the rain subsides and assessments can be made. All rail carriers in this region are impacted, and we are all committed to ensuring the delays are minimized through our active working relationships while keeping our customers, employees and communities we serve top of mind.”











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