Watch Now

CSX, Union Pacific caution about bad winter weather

Railroads warn of operational delays

A BNSF train travels through the snow. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Bitter cold and strong winter storms could impact rail operations over the next several days, according to service advisories from several U.S. Class I railroads.

FreightWaves’ latest weather report on the wintry conditions and the impact on rail and trucking is available here.

Snow and ice from a destructive winter storm were causing widespread power outages and highway accidents from eastern Texas to the Mississippi, Tennessee and Ohio valleys, FreightWaves reported yesterday.

CSX (NASDAQ: CSX) warned about shipping delays in the Midwest as a winter storm passes through the region.

“CSX is advising customers to expect delays on shipments moving through the Ohio Valley and Midwest, as a winter storm tracks across a large portion of the central United States toward the Northeast. The CSX team has resources in position and is ready to resolve any delays that may occur as quickly as possible,” CSX said in a service advisory on Monday.

“Intermodal terminals are open and traffic is moving with only minor slowdowns as a safety precaution at this time. TRANSFLO terminals are idle for the President’s Day holiday and are expected to resume operations on schedule tomorrow [Tuesday],” CSX continued. 

Union Pacific (NYSE: UNP) warned in a service update on Sunday that customers could experience delays of a minimum of 72 hours for shipments in areas impacted by severe weather amid potential network outages and challenges in transporting crews.

The railroad said the Pacific Northwest could see “significant” snow totals of 2 to 4 feet,” in addition to freezing rain, while Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois could experience arctic temperatures. Chicago could receive up to another 12 inches of snow through Tuesday, while the northern part of Texas, portions of Missouri and Kansas, the northern half of Louisiana, and all of Arkansas and Illinois could see snowfall totals as high as 6-12 inches. 

“As a result of the dropping temperatures across the southern part of the network, widespread icing and snow conditions are being experienced as the system makes its way eastward,” Union Pacific said. “The highest icing totals are anticipated for northern Louisiana and southern Arkansas … . We are experiencing road and interstate closures, impacting our ability to transport crews. Downed trees and power outages are also occurring in areas affected by the storm. Generators are being utilized in numerous locations until commercial power resumes.”

These recent updates are on top of ones published by BNSF (NYSE: BRK) and Norfolk Southern (NYSE: NSC) last week. 

Last Thursday, BNSF said it was “confronting service challenges in multiple areas of our network due to extreme winter operating conditions” as arctic cold descended upon the northern and central U.S. The cold was affecting the locomotives’ ability to generate proper airflow for trains’ braking systems, resulting in reduced productivity at terminals, BNSF said. 

Norfolk Southern also said Thursday it was experiencing congestion from frigid weather and “general slowness throughout the supply chain,” resulting in backups on container activity. 

Subscribe to FreightWaves’ e-newsletters and get the latest insights on freight right in your inbox.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Joanna Marsh.

Related articles:

Transportation troubles continue across frozen South

Major winter storm keeps trucking across the South

Powerful weekend winter storms bound for Northwest, South


    1. B.J. Nikkel

      I would like to see that the railroad personal and workers,engineers etc. Be safe and watch out for black ice build up on the tracks!!! When the tracks are iced down. It makes it a 1000 times harder to either slow down or to stop!!! I know a lot about this cause I have an uncle who worked for the railroad for 35+ years. He was an engineer. He would share with me stories he experienced. Some were very scary to me. He retired 10 years ago. He now has a very huge model train set. It fills his whole garage!!!

Comments are closed.

Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.