Hoeven Announces STB Decision to Improve Rail Service Reporting, Help Address Shipping

Senator Continues Efforts to Improve Rail Service through Increased Rail Capacity, Transparency

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today announced that the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) issued a decision requiring all Class I railroads, including Canadian Pacific (CP) and BNSF Railway, to publicly file weekly data reports on a wide-range of rail service issues. The data required in the reports include performance metrics such as system-average train speed, the total number of outstanding car orders, the average numbers of days late for all outstanding grain orders and the number of orders cancelled by shippers and the railroad, among other things.

Today’s announcement follows a public hearing STB held in Fargo last month where Senator Hoeven spoke out on behalf of farmers, elevator operators and others impacted by backlogged rail shipments. At the hearing, Hoeven called on the railroads to make substantial investments in rail infrastructure in the state and region while also pressing CP to implement a more transparent and fair method of tracking orders. Last month, CP reported that the company is investing additional resources for its North Dakota customers and has implemented a new, more transparent service offering and report to the STB. The senator also met in July with STB Chairman Daniel R. Elliott in July to stress shippers’ concerns about backlogs on agriculture rail shipments.

“Today’s decision is an important step forward in improving railroad transparency, which will help our shippers and agriculture producers make informed decisions as they work to get their products to market,” said Hoeven. “However, there is still more to be done. We are going to continue our push to ensure railroads make the much-needed investments in rail infrastructure and personnel to resolve existing rail delays, especially during harvest, and prevent future delays.”

The senator has been working since early in the year to address delays in rail shipping, including urging BNSF to ensure timely delivery of fertilizer and other products needed for spring planting. In February, he brought BNSF Railway and commodity groups together to work through a plan to reduce rail shipment delays. BNSF committed at the time to invest $5 billion in new resources this year, including approximately $600 million in the Northern Corridor.

Hoeven has also been pressing CP to provide additional resources and staff to help meet North Dakota’s shipping needs now and in the future. Last month, the company told the senator it is committed to investing more than $1.3 billion in capital investments companywide in 2014, including $500 million of upgrades in its U.S. system over the next two years. Of the $500 million, CP plans to invest $180 million will go to increase capacity, including new sidings and centralized train control.

Last month, Hoeven hosted two roundtables with rail industry executives, agricultural producers and commodity groups in North Dakota about improving rail service in the state and the impacts of shipping delays. As of the end of last week, BNSF had 2,905 rail cars past due in North Dakota, and CP reported it had 2,327 open carload requests in the state.