STB issues new reporting requirements to improve rail service

By Sen. John Thune’s office | August 25, 2014

Following Sen. John Thune’s, R-S.D., July 24 letter to the Surface Transportation Board calling for the inclusion of two additional reporting requirements on weekly grain order reports required by the board from Canadian Pacific Railway and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, the STB recently announced it will require both CP and BNSF to provide new information on its weekly reports.

“I am pleased the STB swiftly addressed my request to require new reporting metrics from CP and BNSF, ensuring shippers and producers have the most up-to-date information about the efforts being made to address the backlog of rail cars,” said Thune. “With additional transparency and oversight, I know these additional requirements will assist shippers as the anticipated record harvest begins, and I commend the STB for its action.”

Similar to the metrics requested in Thune’s letter, 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 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 Sept. 4, to discuss the rail service backlog and the challenges facing rail shippers and agriculture producers. This public hearing will be similar to the April 10 STB hearing where Thune testified, along with other shippers from across the country, reiterating the challenges shippers face.

Since the beginning of this year, Thune has worked with the STB, as well as senior leadership of CP and BNSF, to address service issues that South Dakota shippers have raised. Thune serves as a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and is the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee which has jurisdiction over the STB and freight railroads.