Weekly status reports illustrate rail delay issues

By Erin Voegele | December 05, 2014

Status reports filed with the Surface Transportation Board for the week ended Nov. 29 show that the BNSF Railway Co. held only 12 ethanol unit trains short of destination or scheduled interchange for long than six hours. For Canadian Pacific, it was seven ethanol unit trains. BNSF also held 121 grain unit trains short of destination or scheduled interchange during the week, with Canadian Pacific reporting the same for 12 grain unit trains.

The BNSF reported a system-average train speed of 21.7 miles per hour (mph) for ethanol unit trains, and 20.7 mph for grain unit trains. The weekly average terminal dwell time, excluding cars on run through trains, was 28.5. The BNSF reported 255,966 total cars on the line for the week, including 58,047 tank cars. The weekly average dwell time at origin for unit train shipments of ethanol was 20.9 hours, for grain it was 13.5 hours. The total number of loaded ethanol cars in revenue service that have not moved in more than 120 hours was 85. For empty ethanol cars, it was 166. In addition, 788 loaded grain cars in revenue service had not moved for 120 hours, along with 814 empty grain cars in revenue service. According to BNSF, 1,346 loaded ethanol cars in revenue service have not moved in 48 to 120 hours, along with 970 empty ethanol cars. During the week, 2,840 loaded grain cars in revenue service had not moved in 48 to 120 hours, along with 2,086 unloaded grain cars.

Canadian Pacific reported a system-average train speed of 16.2 mph for ethanol unit trains, and 19.2 mph for grain unit trains. The system average terminal dwell time, excluding cars on run through trains, was 22.9 hours. Canadian Pacific reported 32,514 cars on the line for the week, including 10,105 tank cars. The weekly average dwell time at origin for unit ethanol unit trains was 52.2 hours, for grain unit trains it was 29.5 hours. Canadian Pacific did not report statistics related to cars in revenue service that had not moved in more than 120 hours or 48 to 120 hours do to a program error that was causing incorrect values to appear in its weekly status reports. The company said it is reworking the program logic and will restate the values as soon as practicable.

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 STB took action to require these reports in 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 performance. Full copies of the weekly service reports can be downloaded from the STB website here.