Class I railroads file first weekly status reports with the STB

By Erin Voegele | October 24, 2014

On Oct. 8, the Surface Transportation Board published a decision announcing new weekly data reporting requirements for Class I railroads. Among the information to be included in those reports is data related to certain ethanol and grain transportation metrics. The railroads filed the first of the required weekly reports on Oct. 22. 

In its report, the BNSF Railway Co. reported the system-average train speed for ethanol unit trains was 20.2 miles per hour (mph). The highest speed was for intermodal trains, at 30.8 mph. The slowest was for a category labeled “all other,” at 17.8 mph. Grain unit trains averaged 19.5 mph. The weekly average terminal dwell time, excluding cars on run through trains, was 28.9 hours. Total cars on the line for the week was 258,092, including 58,078 tank cars. The weekly average dwell time at origin was 14.6 hours for grain unit train shipments, 26 hours for ethanol unit train ships, 10.5 hours for crude oil unit train shipments, and 4.4 hours for coal unit train shipments. According to the report 23 ethanol trains were held short of destination or scheduled interchange for longer than six hours. For grain unit trains it was 283. The weekly total number of loaded cars in revenue service that have not move in more than 120 hours was 52 for ethanol and 747 for grain. For empty cars is was 133 for ethanol and 1,017 for grain.

Canadian Pacific reported a system-average train speed for ethanol unit trains of 17.1 mph, for grain unit trains it was 21.1 mph. The weekly average terminal dwell time, excluding cars on run through trains, was 20.1 hours. CP had 9,630 tank cars on the line for the reporting week. The weekly average dwell time at origin for a unit train shipment was 21 hours for ethanol, and 18.9 hours for grain. For coal it was 0.3 hours and for crude oil it was 12.6 hours. The total weekly number of trains held short of destination for scheduled interchange for longer than six hours was eight for ethanol unit trains and eight for grain unit trains. The weekly total of loaded cars in revenue service that have not moved in more than 120 hours was 0 for ethanol and 33 for grain. For empty cars, it was 0 for ethanol and 32 for grain.

The Canadian National Railway Co., Chicago Transportation Coordination Office, CSX Transportation Inc., Kansas City Southern Railway Co., Norfolk Southern Corp., and Union Pacific Railway Co. also filed the weekly reports. The reports can all be downloaded from the STB website

According to the STB, the reports will promote industry-wide transparency, accountability and improvements in rail service. The board has taken this action in response to concerns raised at recent hearings, including one that featured testimony from two South Dakota-based ethanol producers. The concerns have primarily focused on the impact of poor and delayed service on the BNSF and CP railways.

The STB has indicated it currently intends to collect this data on a temporary basis. However, a rulemaking will be initiated in the near future to determine whether to institute permanent data reporting requirements on service performanc