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BNSF calls Chicago intermodal operations ‘extremely challenged’

By | September 3, 2021

Railroad asks customers to prioritize pick-ups during holiday weekend to create space

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Containers stacked under cranes
Containers stacked under cranes
A long line of containers is stacked three high across two tracks at BNSF’s Logistics Park Chicago facility on Aug. 11, 2021., part of the railroad’s effort to deal with congestion at the terminal in Elwood, Ill. (Trains: David Lassen)

CHICAGO — BNSF is informing customers that conditions at its four Chicago-area intermodal facilities — Corwith, Cicero, Willow Springs, and Logistics Park Chicago in Elwood, Ill. — are “extremely challenged” because of “a substantial number of staged inbound trains and elevated inventory levels.”

It is asking customers to prioritize pick-up of trailers and containers at these facilities, noting that holiday weekends typically result in more terminal dwell. “Prompt pick-up will help improve traffic flows, reduce lot congestion and provide the space needed for processing inbound shipments as quickly as possible,” the railroad said in a service advisory. It will maintain normal working hours during the Labor Day weekend.

BNSF, like all railroads, continues to deal with supply-chain issues that have strained intermodal capacity. CEO Kathryn Farmer last month outlined the railroad’s intermodal congestion issues in a letter to the Surface Transportation Board, noting “significantly more freight is coming into BNSF facilities than is being picked up and that simply is not sustainable.” [See “BNSF Railway details international intermodal congestion issues,” Trains News Wire, Aug. 5, 2021]. In July, BNSF limited the flow of containers to Logistics Park Chicago for two weeks to address a container backlog [see “BNSF restricts flow of containers …,” News Wire, July 19, 2021].

One thought on “BNSF calls Chicago intermodal operations ‘extremely challenged’

  1. I call BS. You can interchange with your east coast partners in other places besides Chicago. Get it classified at POE for St Louis. Memphis/Birmingham, or New Orleans. If you really cared about your customers you could hand off to NS at Kansas City or CSX at North Baltimore. This is about the ability of RR leadership to adjust to their environment. Boo hoo is us, we can’t deliver unless it goes through Chicago. Hey if you can’t divert your moves that quickly then you are running a pretty crappy business. Not enough drivers in Chicago?…divert! Oh wait, we put *all* of our PSR cost savings in one bag by using *only* Chicago. What a load!

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