BNSF Recovers from Midwest Flooding, but Rising Waters Still Limits Some Routes

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While much of BNSF Railway’s traffic has been restored to normal after this spring’s record flooding, BNSF continues to have flooding issues in some areas.

According to the company, BNSF teams have been responding to flood-related track outages in Oklahoma and Kansas following heavy rainfall from a mid-week storm. Several inches of rain in a 24-hour period caused track washouts, or high water locations, on multiple BNSF subdivisions.

The Walnut River at Winfield, Kan., where our Douglass and Arkansas City subdivisions intersect in southeastern Kansas, rose by nearly 30 feet in less than 36 hours and peaked at eight feet above flood stage Wednesday evening.

Portions of both subdivisions, which serve as key route links for traffic moving between the Midwest and Texas, are out of service. The La Junta Subdivision, which runs between southeastern Colorado and eastern Kansas, is also out of service at Halstead, Kan., just west of Newton, due to flood gate closures. BNSF is re-routing some traffic to minimize these disruptions as much as possible.

In the Midwest, service was restored this week on a portion of the Hannibal Subdivision running between Burlington and Fort Madison, Iowa. Approximately 120 miles of the Hannibal Subdivision north of St. Louis remains out of service due to current Mississippi River water levels and flood gate closures. Nearly 100 miles of the River Subdivision, running adjacent to the Mississippi River south of St. Louis, also remains out of service.

As the river recedes, BNSF currently estimates 90 miles of the Hannibal Subdivision to reopen next week, with the remaining 30 miles between Keokuk, IA and La Grange, Mo. reopening the following week. Any significant rainfall or storm events, however, may affect service restoration estimates.

In Nebraska, restoration work on the Napier Subdivision between Pacific Junction, IA and Napier, Mo. continues to progress on schedule. Another 20-mile zone is expected to reopen next week and the full subdivision by the end of the month.

The average number of trains holding increased significantly versus the previous week due to the additional flooding-related outages as well as track work taking place on our Galveston Subdivision, which has caused delays to traffic moving through central Texas. BNSF crews have been conducting ballast replenishment and surfacing work on our main line in two locations southeast of Temple. We expect to generate improved velocity and train flows through this area during the next few days once restoration work is completed.

They also note that excessive rainfall is likely through the weekend across southeastern Texas, including in the Houston complex, Louisiana and other areas of the lower Mississippi River Valley. Much of this region could receive more than one month’s worth of rainfall by the end of the weekend. BNSF operations teams are monitoring water levels in flood-prone areas and are ready to quickly respond to any service disruptions.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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