Railroads stop traffic ahead of Hurricane Harvey

Texas braces for as much as three feet of rainfall
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Hurricane Harvey nears Texas
Federal Railroad Administration Safety Map; TRAINS: Steve Sweeney
GALVESTON, Texas — Updated weather forecasts predicting that Hurricane Harvey will make landfall on the Texas coast as a Category 3 storm has prompted Class I railroads to temporarily cease running trains through the areas projected to take the worst of the storm.

BNSF announced that all inbound and outbound traffic from Galveston Island were halted late in the afternoon on Aug. 24. Trains that were destined for Galveston will be held in alternate locations until the storm has passed and any damage to the infrastructure is repaired. Crews are also working to move stored railcars out of low areas and onto higher ground.

The company said in a news release that it will attempt to keep operations in its Houston area switching yards open over the weekend, but expects that many of its customers will shut down due to the storm.

Union Pacific, likewise, issued a news release announcing that it is moving its equipment out of flood-prone rail yards and onto higher ground. As of Thursday, it has curtailed revenue service along a wide swath of land from Brownsville to Beaumont, Texas, and possibly locations farther east. The company requested that its customers "report any damage to their facility that would impact our ability to serve them once service returns. This information should include damage or tracks out of service and estimated facility repair time."

Kansas City Southern said that it has suspended operations between Kendleton, Texas, and Laredo, Texas, as of midnight on Friday. The company estimated that after the storm passes, a delay of at least 48 to 72 hours will occur as crews inspect the network and declare it safe for normal operations to resume.

All three railroads say that they have staged materials and personnel in the area in order to quickly repair any damage their networks sustain during the storm.

As for Amtrak, the passenger railroad plans to turn the Sunset Limited at El Paso, Texas, “with no alternate transportation” east of there but run the Texas Eagle (minus through Sunset cars) from San Antonio to Chicago.

Hurricane Harvey has been upgraded to a Category 2 storm as of Friday morning. the storm is expected to make landfall as a Category 3 and then stall on the coast, conditions which forecasters warn may bring up to 35 inches of rain to coastal areas. The National Weather Service has called the storm "life-threatening" and cautions that it could render portions of south Texas "uninhabitable for weeks or months."

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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