U.S. orders C.P., B.N.S.F. to solve grain transport woes

by Laura Lloyd
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WASHINGTON — Status quo is no longer acceptable for the long-running problems afflicting rail transportation of grain in the United States. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board issued orders June 20 to the Canadian Pacific Railroad and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway that they produce a plan to resolve the backlog of grain car orders on the U.S. rail network by Friday, June 27.

The railroads are required to present a timeline for resolution of these issues as well as the C.P.’s long-range plan to ensure that the problems don’t recur.

 In addition, the C.P. and the B.N.S.F. must provide the Surface Transportation Board with weekly status updates beginning June 27. The reports will include state-by-state totals of outstanding grain car orders at the end of the week as well as the total number of new orders for the week, those filled for the week, any cancellations by shippers and orders cancelled by the two railroad companies for the week, as well as the average number of days late for all outstanding grain car orders.

The Surface Transportation Board also is requiring the railroads to report the number of cars allocated for grain car service each week, including any private cars in service.

The decisions made by the Surface Transportation Board reflected information gathered in April 2014 in Washington, when interested parties were given the opportunity to report on service problems on the U.S. rail network.

“During the hearing, farmers and representative of agriculture producers described severe, negative effects resulting from backlogged grain car orders and delayed shipments of loaded grain cars,” the Surface Transportation Board said in a decision document. “The reported impacts included, for example, elevators running out of storage capacity, risks of stored grain spoiling, and penalties incurred by grain shippers for products that are not delivered on time.”

The report added that the problems have been especially serious on the systems of the C.P. and B.N.S.F. railroads.
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