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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / BNSF to end California traffic embargo in September

BNSF to end California traffic embargo in September

By Bill Stephens | August 18, 2022

Limits on some carload traffic began June 27 to address Southern Transcon congestion amid crew shortages

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Freight trains meet under cloudy skies
Freight trains meet under cloudy skies
Westbound BNSF local L-SWE0311 meets eastbound stack train Q-LACLPC6 at West Defiance, N.M., on Aug. 11. (Bill Stephens)

FORT WORTH, Texas – BNSF Railway on Sept. 4 will end its embargo on certain types of carload traffic bound for California, saying that the restrictions enabled the railway to reduce traffic backlogs on its Southern Transcon.

“BNSF is terminating our California permit embargo on Sunday, September 4. As anticipated, our weekly number of permits continued to increase throughout the temporary embargo. Also, as anticipated, the temporary permit embargo enabled BNSF to significantly reduce backlogs and drive greater efficiencies for trains moving both towards and in California, and throughout our network,” the railroad said in a customer advisory on Thursday.

“This embargo was one of several actions to improve network fluidity in Southern California,” BNSF said. “As a result, we have seen decreased congestion and increased velocity as network conditions are improving.”

BNSF initially intended the embargo imposed on automotive, agricultural, and industrial commodities bound for California to run through the end of July [see “Beset by congestion, BNSF to limit carload traffic …,” Trains News Wire, June 24, 2022], but on July 27 extended it through August.

BNSF’s California and Southwest Divisions have been among the hardest hit by crew shortages and unplanned recrews of trains en route. But the recrew rate, which is normally around 5% when the railroad is running well, has been improving in recent weeks.

Last week 15% of trains on the California Division required more than one crew per crew district, while 13% required a second crew on the Southwest Division across Arizona and New Mexico. In late July about 20% of trains on those divisions required an unplanned recrew.

Dwell at BNSF’s Barstow, Calif., classification yard remained elevated last week at 38.7  hours, but that’s a significant improvement over the 56-hour average dwell time when the embargo began.

3 thoughts on “BNSF to end California traffic embargo in September

  1. Also heard a story this morning that Port of LA/Long Beach had their best month ever in July handling boxes out of the respective ports but things already slowing down due to shipments/imports coming in slowing down due to overstocked inventories at retail level. I would say that has a lot to do with BNSF actions as much as anything that they are doing..

  2. Sounds like People don’t want to Work on the Railroad but They want Big Money Get Back to Work America

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