U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) today sent letters to senior officials of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and Canadian Pacific (CP) railroads expressing concerns about the recent sharp decline in reliable rail service in South Dakota.
“Over the past two months I have heard from an increasing number of South Dakota shippers regarding the difficulty they are experiencing with significantly reduced rail service,” said Thune. “While the extended winter throughout the region has made it difficult to keep up with the demand from farmers, ethanol producers, and shippers that rely on freight railroads to do business, it is imperative that both railroads do more to address the backlog of rail cars to ensure that shippers can start moving their products to market as we move into planting season.”
In addition to today’s letters, Thune has discussed the current situation with officials from both companies, and his staff members have been in regular communication with shippers, the railroads and the Surface Transportation Board (STB).
Because of the significant drop in rail service that shippers have experienced in recent months, the Surface Transportation Board will be holding a public hearing on April 10, 2014 at their offices in Washington, D.C. that will be focused on BNSF and CP railroads efforts to improve service and estimated timeline for a return to normal service. Senior officials from BNSF and CP will appear before the STB and impacted shippers are also invited to appear to review proposed solutions to the existing service problems and to discuss additional options to improve rail service.
Thune is the Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee that has jurisdiction over freight railroads and the Surface Transportation Board.
Copies of each of Thune’s letters are attached and can be found below.
- Letter to CP - (772.6 KBs)
- Letter to BNSF - (887.9 KBs)