STB to hold rail service hearing this week

The Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Board (STB) said it will hold a hearing on Thursday, April 10 on recent railroad service issues, review proposed solutions to existing service problems, and also discuss additional options to improve service.

By ·

The Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Board (STB) said it will hold a hearing on Thursday, April 10 on recent railroad service issues, review proposed solutions to existing service problems, and also discuss additional options to improve service.

STB officials said that the STB has been “closely monitoring the rail industry’s performance metric and is concerned about service problems across the nation’s railroad network, particularly on the Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP) and BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) company systems,” with STB members having written to and met with leadership at both companies to discuss the concerns.

And they added that the STB’s Office of Public Assistance, Governmental Affairs and Compliance has been working with affected parties to better understand the problems shippers are facing and to help facilitate service solutions.

The majority of these service issues stem from difficult winter weather conditions, which, after several years of record mildness has been beyond harsh, reducing train size and speed- and thus capacity, observed Tony Hatch, an independent railroad analyst, in a research note. Hatch added that recent service metrics, including velocity, have seen carriers active out west are suffering to some degree, with the impact lasting into the second quarter and perhaps longer. As an example, Hatch noted that BNSF saw a 16 percent velocity decline in the first quarter.

FTR Senior Consultant Larry Gross said that both carload and intermodal service in general has taken a hit because of the harsh winter weather in recent months.

“The problems actually started prior to the bad winter weather, with some spot issues on the intermodal network, notably on the BNSF Northern Tier line, which runs from the Pacific Northwest to Chicago and runs through the heart of the Bakken shale region, which is the main source of crude by rail activity,” said Gross. “There also has been a record harvest, with export grain moving to the Pacific North West, making BNSF’s Northern Tier line pretty clogged and that has some ripple effects throughout the BNSF system. Intermodal networks in the Chicago area also took a hit with the weather, with train speeds down and terminals clogged and reliability definitely suffered, as did trucking. Now it is a question of how fast the rails can recover and this is also true on the carload side, with train speeds down and yard dwell times way up right now.”


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

STB · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
The View from the New “Single Window”
The single window, officially known as the "International Trade Data System," operates via the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency's Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) platform, and serves as a single point of contact for all trade filings.
Download Today!
From the March 2017 Issue
WMS vendors are stepping up to the plate and developing functionalities and solutions that meet the complex needs of today’s companies. Our top analysts take a peek into these developments and discuss the DC of the future and the software that will support it.
5 Supply Chain Trends Happening Now
2017 Warehouse/DC Equipment Survey: Investment up as service pressures rise
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
2017 Trucking Regulations & Infrastructure Update
In this session our panel brings shippers up to date on the state of transportation regulations. Discussion will revolve around regulatory reform, aspects of the federal highway bill and what the transportation landscape looks like in the early days of the Trump administration.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
LM Exclusive: Major Modes Join E-commerce Mix
While last mile carriers receive much of the attention, the traditional modal heavyweights are in...
ASEAN Logistics: Building Collectively
While most of the world withdraws inward, Southeast Asia is practicing effective cooperation between...

2017 Rate Outlook: Will the pieces fall into place?
Trade and transport analysts see a turnaround in last year’s negative market outlook, but as...
Logistics Management’s Top Logistics News Stories 2016
From mergers and acquisitions to regulation changes, Logistics Management has compiled the most...