September 1, 2017 – TRA Newswire –

Around the edges rail traffic is starting to inch back after Hurricane/Tropical Storm Harvey devastated Houston and the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Union Pacific Railroad reports that freight rail service in the Houston area is coming back on-line. The UP website warns that the public is urged to be safe at railroad crossings and along railroad tracks. While tracks may have been dormant for several days following the storm, many of them are now active. As always, heed all warning signs and signals at crossings and do not trespass on railroad property or along railroad tracks. Additional rail safety information can be found at www.up.com/worththewait.

Union Pacific’s Gulf Coast operations continue to be impacted by the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey. In areas indicated below, repairs have been completed and they are currently, or soon will be, operating trains.

  • Repairs have been completed between Houston, Texas and Navasota, Texas — providing another route into and out of Houston towards Bryan, Texas.
  • Repairs have been completed between Houston, Texas and San Antonio, Texas.
  • Interchange between Union Pacific and the Port Terminal Railroad Association (PTRA) is scheduled to resume today.
  • UP has been able to inspect track on the Baytown, Texas branch and intend to begin repairs today, with the effort taking multiple days. They estimate this rail segment to return to service next week.
  • One of the top priorities is to restore east-west lines which will allow movement of trains directly between Houston, Texas and Beaumont, Texas. Once these repairs are complete, normal service can resume between eastern Louisiana and Houston, Texas to points beyond.
  • Repairs to track and signals, as well as bridge inspections continue where UP have access. In areas where they have no road access, the railroad continues to utilize helicopters and drones to inspect areas by air.

A complete list of active Union Pacific embargoes can be viewed on their embargo page. The embargoes are for all rail traffic, including intermodal equipment and automotive shipments.

The Amtrak Sunset Limited (Trains 1 & 2) is still unable to operate east of San Antonio due to temporary track closures, terminating and originating in San Antonio rather than New Orleans. No alternate transportation is available between San Antonio and New Orleans. Amtrak is working with Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway to restore this service when it is possible to do so.  Amtrak Thruway Bus Service Routes 6021 & 6022 have resumed between Galveston and Longview, Texas, via Houston, enabling connections to and from the rest of the Amtrak National Network using the Amtrak Texas Eagle (Trains 21/421 & 22/422) at Longview. Houston’s Amtrak station is open to handle the thruway bus movements.

Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County announced that 18 bus lines will resume operations as of today, according to a press release. All services had been suspended since August 27. A separate service alert said the MetroRail Red Line will resume full service today as well. Trains will run between Fannin South Station and the Northline Transit Center with no shuttle buses. However, buses will serve the entire length of the Green and Purple lines, as rail service on those lines remains suspended.

As conditions improve along the Gulf Coast, BNSF Railway crews are making significant progress in restoring rail service and facility operations in the Houston area and other areas of southeastern Texas. , according to the latest post on the company website. Service has been restored on the Houston Subdivision as well as to a greater portion of the Galveston Subdivision, from Temple to just south of Alvin, Texas. BNSF was anticipating service restoration on the Conroe Subdivision between Somerville and Dobbin.

Photo to left courtesy of BNSF shows the Galveston Yard in flood. BNSF rail yards at Silsbee, Galveston and Beaumont remain closed due to flooding. The South Yard, Dayton Yard and Casey Yard have reopened with limited operations. The Houston (Pearland) Intermodal Facility is accessible through an automated gate system (AGS) and train loading and unloading operations have resumed. The Houston (Pearland) Automotive Facility is also now open with unloading operations starting back up. BNSF has advised customers that road closures in the area may continue to impact access to facilities that have re-opened. Day shift operations at the Port Terminal Railroad Association (PTRA) yards are expected to resume. Trains that are currently staged will be ready to move as blocked routes are cleared and destinations are able to receive, according to BNSF. They continue to re-route or divert as much traffic as possible around the area until flood waters recede and storm damaged lines can be repaired. Routes are open into central Texas and traffic is moving through San Antonio, including trains destined for Mexico through the Eagle Pass gateway.

(Photo with article headline shows washout on BNSF line near Cleveland, Texas)