Hoeven Presses BNSF CEO to Address Rail Car Backlog in North Dakota

Senator Discusses Steps to Help Farmers & Ranchers Get Products to Market; BNSF Backlog in ND at 2,752 Cars, Down from 3,600 Last Month

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week pressed BNSF CEO Katie Farmer to address the rail car backlog in North Dakota and discussed the following steps that BNSF is taking to help farmers, ranchers and other shippers get their products to market:

  • Hiring 3,000 new employees, while offering $15,000 hiring bonus incentives.
  • Adding 350 locomotives to their fleet.
  • Increasing rail shuttle turns from 2 to 2.5 per month.
  • Utilizing BNSF’s Ombudsman to facilitate communication with agriculture producers and other shippers.

BNSF’s current backlog in North Dakota is 2,752 cars past due, down from 3,600 cars last month. The senator will continue pressing this issue with the rail industry to further bring down the number of past due cars in the state.

“Our farmers and ranchers need access to reliable rail service, and these ongoing transportation disruptions create a real problem for both producers and consumers,” said Hoeven. “The steps that BNSF is taking to address this issue are encouraging, and I appreciate CEO Katie Farmer for being receptive to our feedback and committing to improve communication with shippers in North Dakota. We will hold them to that commitment and continue working to resolve the rail car backlog in our state.”

The call to BNSF builds on Hoeven’s previous efforts to address shipping backlogs and supply chain issues for agriculture producers, among other industries. To this end, Hoeven, along with Senator Kevin Cramer, pressed the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to address prolonged rail service disruptions. The STB recently required Class I railroads to provide biweekly reports on their progress toward increasing service.

Further, Hoeven sponsored the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, bipartisan legislation recently passed by Congress that will update federal regulations for the global shipping industry and help American producers export their products internationally. As one of the four lead sponsors of the bipartisan legislation, Hoeven, along with Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), advanced the bill through the Senate in March, followed by the House of Representatives passing the bill earlier this week.