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BNSF seeing ‘multiple trains’ stopped through Upper Plains as Jayden bears down

( Photo: BNSF/Flickr )

Class 1 railroad warns of slowdown in shipments through major intermodal hubs as tracks crack under severe cold.

Winter storm Jayden is slowing rail operations throughout the Upper Midwest and Northeast with the largest Class 1 railroad by track miles reporting “multiple trains” being stopped and delayed due to the storm.

BNSF (NYSE: BRK.A) warned customers Jayden’s record cold and wind chill “has caused significant operational challenges for train and hub operations.”

Air temperatures of 30 below zero and wind chills of 50 below zero are affecting the structural integrity of the metal rail tracks throughout the region. BNSF says trains are stopped “due to broken rails as well as air flow issues involving trains’ braking systems.”

A BNSF representative was unable to say how many trains have been affected by Jaden, but the railroad says it is “restoring normal operations as quickly and effectively as possible” and alerting customers about shipment impacts.

BNSF says it is shortening train lengths due to braking distances being impacted by the cold. It is also having to use distributed locomotive power.

Jayden’s impact is being particularly felt at BNSF’s Twin Cities and Chicago facilities. It says the yards are seeing “several disabled trains with no alternate routes.”

The two yards are major terminuses for freight coming from BNSF’s West Coast intermodal service.

The rail is calling on its drayage carrier network to help relieve container backlog by prioritizing pick-ups and minimize bob-tail out-gating.

While the brunt of Jayden has already moved through the region, the National Weather Service is still issuing wind chill warnings for a swath of the U.S. spanning North Dakota down through Illinois and up into New York due to the storm.

With rail freight strangled due to the cold, shippers are having to search out truck capacity to move goods. But as FreightWaves reported, trucking capacity is experiencing severe tightness in the region.