U.S. rail service 'reliable and responsive'

Grain handling facilities report faster cycle times than last year.

The Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) recently released rail performance results for its most recent Jan. 16-30 survey period.

The results are part of ongoing research project with the University of Minnesota.

“It’s encouraging to hear such dramatically different rail service testimonials this year compared to last year from grain handlers,” said Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition.  “Last year, there was widespread frustration and exasperation throughout agriculture.  This year, rail service – especially in the western parts of the corn and soybean belt – is much more reliable and responsive.  Railroads need to be commended for their performance thus far.  We hope to see this continue.”    

In the most recent update, 100% of participating grain handling facilities reported that cycle times for railroads were faster than a year ago – an increase from 67%in the first survey, 70% in the second survey, 78% in the third survey, and 91% in the fourth survey.  Of the survey respondents, 69% recorded no rail orders as past due – an increase from 33% in the first survey, 48% in the second survey, 54%in the third survey, and 61% from the fourth survey. 

No respondents reported “much more” storage pressure at their facilities; and only 10% reported “more” pressure on storage.  Ninety percent of the participants responded that storage pressure was “the same,” “less,” or “much less.”  Additionally, the number of round trip “turns per month” continued to increase – from 2.2 turns per month in the initial survey to 2.33 turns per month in the most recent survey.       

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