Updated July 10, 2024 - TRA Newswire -

Rail service is in a recovery mode following Hurricane Beryl's push through the Texas Gulf Coast. 

Union Pacific Railroad reports that "all impacted track segments, with the exception of the Galveston area, have been quickly restored to service. However, we will experience service variability until commercial power is fully restored and all roadways are accessible for transporting crews. Customers with rail shipments moving through the impacted area should anticipate some delays."

UP said that operations have resumed between Angleton and Brownsville, Texas but water remains over the rail near Virginia Point and Galveston Island. In addition, fallen trees, downed power lines and other storm damage have led to numerous road closures limiting travel to affected areas. Multiple locations are currently experiencing power outages due to a loss of commercial power. The railroad said they are working closely with local power companies and contractors in the impacted areas to restore service. Meanwhile, UP continues to deploy and install generators until commercial power is restored and they continue to coordinate recovery efforts through their Command Center.

BNSF Railway reported that their facilities in the impacted area have returned to service, including the Pearland Intermodal Facility which is now open for ingates and pickups, and train flows have resumed throughout the Houston Complex. In an online statement BNSF reported "thanks to the coordinated efforts of BNSF Engineering, Mechanical, Transportation and Signal teams, we were able to safely restore rail operations as quickly as possible. Operational teams are currently executing procedures to work through the backlog caused by the storms."

Houston METRORail reports that service on the Red, Green and Purple lines remains suspended due to power outages. Bus shuttles are currently being offered on all three lines. Amtrak's tri-weekly Sunset Limited that operates through Houston is not scheduled for service to that station until this weekend. Amtrak's daily Texas Eagle train 22 departed San Antonio today but the Southbound service #21 did not operate south of St. Louis, due to storm damage cleanup in Missouri and Arkansas. 

July 8, 2024 - TRA Newswire -

Category 1 Hurricane Beryl, now downgraded to a Tropical Storm, made landfall early Monday on the Texas Gulf Coast near Houston, blanking freight and passenger rail/transit operations and impacting electric service to homes and businesses. 

Electric provider CenterPoint Energy issued a statement and said "the storm veered off the originally expected course and more heavily impacted the company’s customers, systems and infrastructure than previously anticipated, resulting in outages to more than 2.26 million customers at its peak.”

Freight railroads prepared for heavy rains, flash flooding and hurricane-force winds Sunday by closing down facilities, tying down equipment and putting emergency plans it place. Beryl also spawned tornados as the storm system progressed northward. 

Amtrak cancelled service on the Sunset Limited between New Orleans and San Antonio and MetroRail service in Houston was suspended. Texas Eagle service between St. Louis and San Antonio was also annuled while the tropical storm raged through East Texas and upwards toward the Great Lakes. 

In a statement, Union Pacific Railroad announced "We are making preparations along our network to respond quickly to potential outages. Measures taken in advance of the storm include: Staging generators, rail ballast and panels, additional diesel fuel, and supplemental transportation for crews. Our Signal Team will begin securing rail crossing signal gates. Water pumps have been strategically positioned to mitigate damage. We’ve established a Command Center to facilitate emergency coordination."

Motorists should be especially cautious at railroad crossings if power outages affect gates and flashing lights. 

BNSF Railway noted "Our thoughts are with those who have been impacted by the hurricane, as widespread power outages and major flooding impact the region as well as subsequent road closures in multiple locations. BNSF Pearland Intermodal Facility in Houston remains closed until it is safe to resume operations. As conditions improve, engineering teams will begin track inspections this afternoon in areas that are safely accessible and are prepared to quickly enact repairs as needed to restore normal operations".

BNSF closed down its Galveston and Houston subdivisions and stopped service on the Houston Belt and Terminal Railway. Texas ports with dockside rail service were also affected. 

Hurricane Beryl came ashore about 90 miles southwest of Houston at Matagorda and was dumping 5 to 10 inches of rain on affected areas as it moved inland.

Railroads will access bridges and infrastructure and prepare to resume service as safe operations allow. 

Photo credit: NOAA