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Thune Calls For Further Oversight to Ease Rail Concerns

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WASHINGTON, DC (KELO AM) —U.S. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) sent a letter to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) today calling for the inclusion of two new metrics on the weekly grain order reports required by the board from Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railroad. Following increased concerns from South Dakota rail shippers regarding harvest season, Thune’s letter requests that the STB require CP and BNSF to include the average shuttle turn rate, which is the average number of roundtrips a group of railcars makes per month, and also include the number of locomotives CP is providing each week to the Rapid City, Pierre, and Eastern (RCP&E) Railroad. 

“Strong, effective oversight and transparency are among the best tools we have to ensure CP and BNSF improve rail service at this critical time for producers and shippers,” said Thune. “I appreciate the STB’s coordination and help as we work together to address these rail service issues for South Dakota shippers, and I urge the board to require these new metrics in the weekly reports.”

On June 20, 2014, in response to months of inconsistent service, the STB issued an order requiring CP and BNSF to publicly file plans to resolve their respective backlogs of grain car orders. These status reports show the current South Dakota backlog of each railroad, including the total number of late cars and the average length of delay. CP is also required to disclose the number of grain cars it is providing to RCP&E on a weekly basis. Including the average shuttle turn rate and the number of locomotives provided by CP to RCP&E will help increase transparency and ensure shippers can get their commodities to market.

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