Its not just rail capacity. The congestion we saw last year cascaded throughout the system with the arrival of the polar vortex. When snow falls every switch that is lined for a new track/ movement needs to be swept clean so the mechanism can close.
If it wont close due to ice, a trainman has to go out to chip ice/snow away then operate a switch- some times even if its a dispatch controlled switch.
This compounds delays.
As delays pile up, crew time is burning for every job that is moving freight. If Johnny switchman in Nebraska is having a crappy day cleaning switches, he can’t move freight from track A to any other tracks...which delay The fellas out on the main line waiting to cone in w their delivery.
As the main line guys get held up, they run into hours of service problems at 12 hours. If that happens, a relief crew comes out, taking a rested crew off the roster, leaving one less regular crew to pull the next train...
Its a manpower/tracking/logistics nightmare...
Many of you are right, the RR has crapped out on local delivery in favor of oil and big money shipments. Our yard in Fresno is losing our intermodal service for fresh fruits/veggies/mail which will be replaced by ethanol or grain. Now all the local farmers have to send their stuff to Stockton’s intermodal facility adding 75-100 truck loads to our local freeways each day.
The worst part is we are on one main track in many places with all the port traffic, and Amtrack to compete with. This makes for long days of moving a few sidings, then long waits before moving again while other priority traffic scoots by.
Imagine if UPS delivery hubs were in the middle of the sticks with only a single-lane dirt road to move all their trucks into and out of the facility. Essentially thats how BNSF yards are out here in CA.