STB requires additional info from rail carriers

Concerns mount as to whether CP and BNSF can handle this fall's harvest.

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) plans to require new information from Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad in its weekly reports.

In addition, U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary for Marketing & Regulatory Programs, Ed Avalos, issued a letter to the STB expressing concerns over CP’s shipping backlog and stated CP is not doing enough to prepare and facilitate this fall’s grain harvest in the upper Midwest. USDA is requesting CP explain how the rail carrier will facilitate the backlog by October and requesting the STB consider remedies if CP fails to meet its obligations.

The STB will require BNSF to provide an expanded plan on its efforts to address this season’s anticipated record grain harvest and show performance for grain shuttle trains by region. The STB will also require CP, which has struggled to meet rail car orders and provide locomotives to the Rapid City, Pierre, and Eastern (RCP&E) railroad required to operate efficiently, to report the number of locomotives moving inbound and outbound from the RCP&E system onto the CP system.

The STB will also require CP to outline a plan to ensure RCP&E maintains locomotive resources to support their outbound train movements and work through backlogged grain shipments. Finally, CP will be required to provide an updated plan and timeline to reduce CP’s backlog of unfilled grain car orders on its U.S. network.

The STB also announced it will be holding a public hearing in Fargo, North Dakota, on September 4, 2014, to discuss the rail service backlog and the challenges facing rail shippers and agriculture producers. This public hearing will be similar to the April 10th STB hearing.

In its latest filings, BNSF said it has 2,671 cars past due compared to the previous week’s total of 3,492.

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