As former state railroad director for South Dakota and current chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which has oversight over our nation’s rail system, Sen. Thune has prioritized efforts that have resulted in substantial reforms to this industry that will benefit shippers and improve rail service throughout South Dakota.

Highlights of Sen. Thune’s Commitment to Supporting South Dakota’s Rail Industry:

  • Authored Surface Transportation Board (STB) Reauthorization Act, which became law on December 18, 2015:
    • Until the passage of this legislation, the STB had not been reauthorized or substantively reformed since its creation in 1996.
    • Thune’s bill improved the STB’s dispute resolution processes, including setting timelines and expanding arbitration procedures, to resolve rate and service issues faster and at less cost.
    • It also provided the STB with the authority to proactively investigate and resolve rail issues, such as the service problems that impacted South Dakota shippers in 2013 and 2014, expanded the board, and authorized a more collaborative approach to oversight.

“We are excited and encouraged by the passage of this STB reform,” said Jerry Cope, manager at Dakota Mill and Grain. “It makes sense and is a credible, positive change with real impact for South Dakota’s Ag shippers.” Click here to see what other industry leaders had to say.

  • Thune Oversight on Rail Issues Leads to Lasting Reforms:
    • In 2014, rail service delays had significant impact on shippers around the country, including many in South Dakota. In addition to working with South Dakota producers, shippers, and railroads to resolve these issues, Sen. Thune led an oversight effort that resulted in lasting reforms at the STB.
    • Rail service metrics requested by Thune from railroads at the time of the delays are now required by the STB, enhancing transparency and accountability for reliable service.
    • STB board members and the secretary of transportation visited South Dakota, and the USDA examined the impact of rail service issues, at Thune’s request.