We hate to always be bearers of bad news, but it seems to be the trend of the last year and a half. Recently, new wildfires in California have caused disruption along a BNSF rail route.
Earlier this month, Amtrak had to close down a route stretching from Seattle, Washington to Sacramento, California due to the blockages caused by the wildfires. Unfortunately, the wildfires continue to spread and affect other roads and rail routes.
BNSF, which is the U.S.’s single largest freight network recently announced they are suspending rail services on a route between Oregon and Northern California due to the Northern California wildfires. It’s unknown whether major damages along the route or on the rail tracks themselves exist. If the damage is substantial, it may require a good deal of time and money to fix, however, BNSF has not commented on the condition of the infrastructure at this time.
There’s no doubt that imported cargo moving inland along the western side of the U.S. will experience setbacks and delays, which comes at a unique time as its combined with tons port congestion on Pacific side ocean ports.
One would think that reroutes shouldn’t be a major hassle, however, in this particular instance, the workaround is incredibly inconvenient. Cargo hoping to move by rail from Oregon to North California will be forced to travel northeast almost reaching the Canadian border, southeast through Denver and down to Texas, and then ride the southwest edge of the U.S. through New Mexico and Arizona before entering Southern California and traveling all the way up to the Northern edge of the state. Sound inefficient? It is. And it will absolutely cause major delays.
It’s estimated that this inefficient reroute will add several days in each direction of the commute. BNSF is hoping to resolve things quickly, however, shippers should expect it to be a while before cargo movement is able to be resumed along the Oregon to Northern California route.
If you’re currently importing to the U.S. along the Pacific side, it may be time to consider using different routes or modes of shipping to ensure your cargo moves efficiently to its destination. The last year and a half have required flexibility from all of us, and while it’s not always fun, it’s imperative that you work with a strategic partner who can work alongside you to devise a unique and custom solutions on the fly to keep your cargo moving safely and quickly. If you’d like to start a conversation, please don’t hesitate to just reach out to one of our team members! We’d love to answer any of your questions regarding rail freight, the condition of the Pacific side ports and railways, and help you figure out what’s best for your logistics process!