Major railroads are warning customers that shipment delays, detours and track outages from the flooding Missouri River could last weeks longer, suggesting the river will have disrupted normal rail routes for much of the summer.
Canadian National Railway says it still cannot get into its rail yards at Omaha, Neb., and Council Bluffs, Iowa, until cleared by authorities. “The situation is expected to last for quite some time,” CN told freight shippers in a July 11 notice.
Union Pacific Railroad is battling track outages in Kansas between Leavenworth and Atchison, and in Missouri between Kansas City and Jefferson City.
Besides the already high river levels, new rainstorms are adding to the problems “and we anticipate that it may be weeks before the water recedes to a point where crews can complete required maintenance and restore these subdivisions to service,” UP said.
UP is routing trains around the flood-hit areas, but said “customers with shipments moving through the affected areas may expect up to 24- to 48-hour delays.”
UP and BNSF Railway have been rebuilding miles of tracks in the flood region, which entails stripping rails, crossties and other infrastructure and then building up the track bed before laying the tracks back down. They have also jacked up some rail bridges in that process.
Besides the Missouri River, BNSF also lost service for a while last month when the Souris River flooded out Minot, N.D. The railroad reopened those Minot lines last week, but still reported a long list of outages for North Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.
Along the Missouri, BNSF said its work to keep rail routes open included raising two mainline tracks as much as eight feet above pre-flood levels, and building levees six feet higher on either side. Another track section was raised five feet, BNSF said, and required more than 300 railcars of heavy rock ballast to fortify the track bed.