Hoeven presses BNSF over backlog of rail cars
“Our farmers and ranchers need access to reliable rail service, and these ongoing transportation disruptions create a real problem for both producers and consumers,” Hoeven said.
GRAND FORKS — North Dakota's senior senator is concerned about the backlog of rail cars in North Dakota and has called on Burlington Northern Santa Fe's chief executive officer to continue working on the issue.
According to a release from his Washington, D.C., office, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., pressed BNSF CEO Katie Farmer on the backlog and discussed a series of steps BNSF is taking to help the region's ag producers and others get their products to market.
Among the BNSF steps are:
- Hiring 3,000 new employees while offering $15,000 hiring bonus incentives.
- Adding 350 locomotives to the BNSF fleet.
- Increasing rail shuttle turns from two to two and a half per month.
- Utilizing BNSF's ombudsman to facilitate communication with ag producers and other shippers.
According to the release, the backlog in North Dakota is down from last month's number of 3,600 cars, but is still at 2,752.
“Our farmers and ranchers need access to reliable rail service, and these ongoing transportation disruptions create a real problem for both producers and consumers,” Hoeven said in the release. “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.”
There have been other recent developments in shipping delays, too, according to Hoeven's office.
Hoeven and Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., recently discussed with the Surface Transportation Board prolonged rail service disruptions. The STB recently required Class I railroads to provide biweekly reports on progress to increase service.
Cramer, according to a release from his office Friday, led 20 colleagues in a letter urging the STB to ensure reliable, consistent rail service for American industries and shippers.
The senators wrote: “We are very concerned over the significant rail service disruptions occurring throughout the U.S. freight rail network. Reports from rail customers, including our manufacturers, farmers, ranchers, and energy producers, indicate reliable rail service is not being provided in many situations.”
Also, Hoeven sponsored the Ocean Shipping Reform Act, legislation recently passed by Congress to update federal regulations for the global shipping industry. Also involved in that process, according to Hoeven's office, were Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin.