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BNSF Railway Co. announced to its customers this week that the railroad will enter the 2014-15 winter season "better prepared than ever before," especially if the Polar Vortex returns, BNSF officials said in a press release. Given last winter's extremes, the Class I's operating divisions evaluated this year’s winter action plan. Each division has completed the following:• safety briefings with employees to review hypothermia and frostbite prevention, as well as general safety precautions regarding slips, trips and falls, and cold weather gear review;• inventories of snow removal equipment and supplies, such as emergency generators and salt supplies;• specialized snow removal equipment testing to ensure the machinery works properly; and• operational procedure reviews as to when to adjust crew transportation procedures and adjust train size, speed and other operating restrictions.BNSF also added several new resources to support winter operations, such as larger rapid response teams dedicated to addressing service interruptions that might be caused by a variety of mechanical or operational issues, including winter weather. In addition, the railroad:• increased mechanical rapid responders by 25 percent, mainly in the form of nine new rapid response teams positioned in the northern part of North Dakota in Williston and New Rockford, as well as in La Crosse, Wis., Savanna and Sterling, Ill., and Fort Scott, Kan.;• established after-hours track rapid response teams to assist with snow removal across the northern part of the network by keeping more than 300 additional maintenance-of-way employees who traditionally were during winter;• expanded container and trailer parking capacity by 800 spots at the Willow Springs, Corwith and Cicero intermodal facilities in the Chicago area;• installed an additional 150 switch heaters at locations that previously did not have protection from cold temperatures;• installed air dryers on all new locomotives to help reduce moisture that can accumulate in the braking system; and• acquired additional snow removal equipment, with the most significant acquisitions involving two industrial-size snow blowers that will be dedicated to keeping Chicago hub facilities free of snow and ice."While we always prepare the operations for winter, the extreme cold experienced last year provided us some additional insight that we have incorporated into our future preparations and operating procedures,” said Steve Bobb, BNSF's executive vice president and chief marketing officer. "While unplanned events can always happen, we will go into this winter season with more resources and more preparation than ever before so that our people stay safe amid the harshest of weather conditions and our customers’ freight gets to its destination as promised."
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