U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced that the Surface Transportation Board (STB)’s Rail Customer and Public Assistance program (RCPA) will be hosting a series of informal meetings with interested South Dakota shippers regarding railroad service delays on Tuesday, May 6, 2014, in Sioux Falls.
“The rail car shortages and service delays facing South Dakota shippers are having a huge economic impact on a wide cross section of producers in our state and region,” said Thune. “These critical service issues also have a direct impact on the future economic health of South Dakota and our number one industry, agriculture. It is imperative that we work together to find a solution. I appreciate STB’s efforts to schedule these meetings with South Dakota shippers in order to improve rail service. I will continue to work with the STB, Canadian Pacific Railroad, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad to ensure all rail shippers receive adequate and efficient rail service.”
The STB’s RCPA meetings will be held at the Country Inn Suites, located at 200 East 8th Street, Sioux Falls, SD. To accommodate as many shippers as possible, the individual meetings will be 30 minutes in length starting at 8:00 AM, and ending at 5:00 PM central time. Shippers may also choose to meet with the RCPA staff in groups, if they prefer. These informal and confidential meetings are intended for shippers only. Appointments can be made by emailing Tom Brugman, Deputy Director, Public Assistance and Compliance, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
These meetings build upon the STB’s oversight of freight railroads and coincide with meetings the STB held with shippers at the end of March in Fargo, North Dakota. The STB also held a hearing in Washington, D.C., on April 10th regarding the on-going rail service problems in South Dakota. Thune testified at the STB hearing about the significant impact the delays and service problems are having on shippers and producers across South Dakota, who are particularly concerned about getting products to market and ensuring that agriculture inputs like fertilizer are available for spring planting.The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has jurisdiction over freight railroads and the Surface Transportation Board.