- Multiple rail companies say they're expecting lower production levels in some areas of the Midwest as temperatures plummeted in the region, reaching as low as minus 66 degrees Fahrenheit in Minnesota.
- "As we have communicated with our customers, BNSF is experiencing extreme winter weather across the northern Plains and upper Midwest, which is impacting service performance in these parts of our network. Due to these harsh conditions, we expect lower production at St. Paul and Chicago area intermodal and automotive hubs," Amy Casas, the director of corporate communications for BNSF, told Supply Chain Dive in an email.
- USPS, UPS and FedEx have all suspended service in parts of the country to keep their employees out of the cold weather.
Norfolk Southern issued a service alert, saying its facilities in Chicago remain open but with "greatly reduced drayage support in the Chicago area which is creating congestion in our parking lots and storage yards," the company explained.
To help keep traffic moving, Norfolk Southern will require all drivers that bring in a container to Chicago to also leave with one.
The company also is temporarily closing multiple lanes beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday until further notice, including:
- Buffalo, New York, to Chicago.
- Jacksonville, Florida, to Chicago.
- Pittsburgh to Chicago.
Canadian Pacific, when asked it it was experiencing issues due to winter storm Jayden, directed Supply Chain Dive to its Winter Contingency Plan, which states, "The primary winter impact to a railway is extreme cold – which requires operational changes to reduce train speed, length, and weight."
BNSF is operating on a "winter action plan" meant to minimize the disruption experienced during the storm. This includes a winter command center being staffed around the clock that can make any needed adjustments. The cold weather can be hard on a train's brakes, so the company has restricted the train length for freight moving through Jayden's reach.
USPS has suspended service is six states in locations, including Chicago and Detroit. The decision was made "to ensure the safety and well-being of our employees," a USPS spokesperson told Supply Chain Dive. UPS has also suspended deliveries in six states, according to service alerts issued by the company. FedEx Freight, meanwhile, has temporarily suspended service in parts of 11 states.
It's not just freight and logistics providers having to find creative ways to keep moving. Passenger trains are facing a similar struggle with the cold causing a track to crack in Minneapolis. The cold can cause the rails to contract and break at weld points, a Metro Transit spokesperson told the Star Tribune.
One solution for keeping trains moving in the bitter cold: fire. Chicago has a gas-fed system it uses during the winter to create flames near important switches.