Continuing to react to rail car shortages and delays in the Midwest, the Surface Transportation Board on Wednesday required that all railroads nationwide reveal more data about shipment delays of all products — including those from agriculture, energy and other commodities — on October 22.
In a statement the STB noted that it had held a public hearing on September 4 in Fargo, N.D., so that witnesses could discuss the problem and give interested persons the opportunity to report on rail service problems and react to them.
During and after the hearings, shippers expressed concerns about the lack of publicly available rail service metrics and requested access to certain performance data from the railroads to help them better understand the scope, magnitude, and impact of the current service issues.
Following the April hearing, the board directed BNSF and CP to provide weekly status reports on fertilizer shipments and the transportation of grain on their networks (for CP, on its United States network).
“The order requires all Class I railroads — which includes the largest railroads in the U.S., including Canadian Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe — throughout the country to release more data of all rail shipments, not just agriculture shipments, moving forward,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D. said in a news release.
“This data includes average speeds, dwell times, number of cars loaded and emptied, weekly number of grain cars ordered, loaded, billed, overdue, and cancelled by state, and more,” Heitkamp said. “Such data will allow the STB to see any changes in delays of agriculture shipments, and if there are similar delays of other products, such as crude oil and coal.”
“Today, the STB is taking needed action to hold the railroads accountable, require more transparency from the railroads on all products shipped on the rails, and make sure all products — whether grain, oil, coal, or anything else — are treated equally and fairly in how they are transported,” she added.
Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., also issued a statement on the situation.
“Rail service in Minnesota is a mess — it’s hurting farmers, businesses, utilities, and communities throughout our state,” Franken said.
“They all tell me that shipping delays are a serious threat to their livelihoods, and that they’re fed up with rising prices and subpar service.”