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Mid-South shipping centers see historic levels of volume

Action News 5 Memphis logo Action News 5 Memphis 9/16/2021 Parker King
a sign on the side of a building: BNSF Railway's Memphis branch © Provided by Action News 5 Memphis BNSF Railway's Memphis branch

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Thursday marked 100 days out from Christmas, but as many Mid-Southerners know, the shopping period for the holiday starts much, much earlier.

With that shopping, much of it online these days and requiring a product to be shipped, comes a rise in volume for logistics networks.

As many may know, Memphis has a reputation for logistics.

“Business Facilities Magazine, in their 17th annual rankings, recognized Memphis as the global leader in logistics,” said Ted Townsend with the Greater Memphis Chamber.

This year, however, may be a year that challenges that title.

BNSF Railway out of Texas, with a branch in Memphis, is reporting what they call “historic” volumes in their railyards.

“BNSF is currently handling historic levels of volume on our network. That coupled with a backlog of container ships at the ports and limited warehouse space of importers has resulted in the current supply chain challenges that we are collectively experiencing. We recognize that strong demand remains in front of us as the holiday season approaches, and we have taken several actions to push more volume through our network and improve fluidity at our hubs.”

Ben Wilemon, BNSF External Corporate Communications Manager

To help provide a quick relief to the congestion, BNSF has reopened their facility in Marion, AR to take in overflow.

BNSF says to combat this, they’ve increased lifting equipment at their loading facilities like Memphis by 20%, as well as added additional personnel to work 24/7 with their partners to handle the backlog.

Townsend referred to Memphis’s handling of last year’s holiday season, as a logistics whole, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Memphis faired very well,” Townsend said. “If you look at FedEx -- we are obviously home to their global hub -- they have seen tremendous growth. In addition to FedEx, we have UPS, DHL, and other carriers that have seen tremendous growth just in the Memphis market.”

Townsend said regardless of what spikes shipping requests, Memphis’s logistics community will prevail.

As for BNSF, they’re hoping this increase in resources will bring down the backlog to the point where they’re in a good place to take on the peak of holiday shopping season.

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