Surface Transportation Board Chairman Updates Hoeven on Efforts to Reduce Agriculture Shipping Backlogs

BNSF Making Progress on Backlog, CP Rail

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today met with Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairman Daniel R. Elliott to address concerns about backlogs on agriculture rail shipments. Hoeven is pushing the railroads to catch up before the harvest season is fully underway.

“We continue to press railroads to eliminate backlogs and get agriculture shipments on schedule for our producers, especially with the harvest season fast approaching,” said Hoeven. “I spoke with STB Chairman Dan Elliot, as well as BNSF Chairman Matt Rose today, and both indicated that BNSF is catching up.”

Elliot told the senator that BNSF is making progress in its efforts to cut its backlog. According to BNSF, the railroad currently has 3,359 past-due cars in North Dakota, which reflects an average delay of 23.6 days. On July 18, the railroad had 3,908 cars past due, and BNSF committed to spot 450 cars per day to reduce the backlog. BNSF says the trend and progress on past-due agriculture shipments indicate that they will be positioned to manage the 2014 harvest in September.

However, according to the STB, Canadian Pacific Railroad has cumulative open requests of 22,811 cars, which would reflect a backlog of more than 11 weeks if “open requests” are past-due cars. Eliot said he is planning to meet with Canadian Pacific officials next week to push them to reduce agriculture shipping delays in North Dakota.

Hoeven is also working to arrange a meeting next month in North Dakota with Canadian Pacific officials to hear directly from producers about their concerns. The senator will host BNSF Railway Executive Chairman Matt Rose in Fargo on August 7 to discuss delays and answer questions from producers.

Earlier this month, Hoeven asked Rose to dedicate additional resources to relieve backlogs on agriculture shipments prior to the fall harvest season. BNSF committed to spot 450 cars per day and offer more shuttles this fall than in 2013 to relieve past due agriculture shipments.