Hoeven Working with STB to Resolve Rail Backlog Before Fall Harvest

Senator Meets with Surface Transportation Board Member Fuchs, Continues Advancing Efforts to Ensure Access to Reliable Transportation for North Dakota Shippers

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven this week met with Patrick Fuchs, a member of the Surface Transportation Board (STB), to discuss the rail service disruptions impacting North Dakota shippers, including agriculture producers, and stressed the need to resolve the backlog before fall harvest. The senator reviewed the recent public accountability requirements the STB has placed on BNSF and other Class I railroads, which include:

  • Weekly reports containing data on rail service performance.
  • 6-month targets for key performance indicators, including grain-car backlogs and railroad velocity.
  • 6-month and 12-month workforce hiring targets.
  • 36 months of historical data for comparison.

Hoeven urged Board Member Fuchs to continue closely monitoring the situation to ensure progress is made on the backlog before fall harvest, and to determine if additional acute prioritization action is required. 

“It is critical that these prolonged rail service disruptions are resolved in time for the fall harvest. That’s the case we continue to make both to the STB and to the rail companies,” said Hoeven. “Our meeting with STB Member Patrick Fuchs was an important opportunity to review the progress so far and discuss the requirements that have been placed on the railroads. We appreciate the STB’s attention to this matter, and we will continue working to ensure North Dakota’s farmers, ranchers and other shippers have access to the reliable rail service they need.”

The meeting builds on a discussion Hoeven held with BNSF CEO Katie Farmer last week to discuss the steps BNSF is taking to restore reliable rail service in North Dakota. These include hiring 3,000 new employees, offering hiring incentives, adding 350 new locomotives, increasing rail shuttle turns and utilizing the BNSF Dakota Region Ombudsman to improve communication with shippers.

In addition, Hoeven sponsored the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, bipartisan legislation recently signed into law 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 month.