Rail letter details ag issues

A letter authored by the National Grain and Feed Association has been sent to the Surface Transportation Board, White House and Congress detailing freight issues agricultural shippers and receivers have been having with several Class I railroads.

The letter is signed by the organization’s Agricultural Transportation Working Group (ATWG).

“The current inability of several Class I carriers to provide reliable rail service to their customers is impacting farmgate commodity prices and elevating food prices for consumers. Neither of these outcomes is beneficial for individual Americans and the U.S. economy,” the letter states. “While several factors contribute to these carriers’ rail service challenges, we consistently hear that significant reductions in train crew numbers and other personnel have severely hamstrung the rail carriers’ ability to maintain their prior levels of service, to overcome the typical day-to-day issues that affect railroad service plans, and to respond to changes in rail freight demand. Moreover, the mismatch between the importance of reliable and cost-effective freight rail transportation to our nation’s economy and the lack of effective competition between the Class I railroads remains of great concern to the ATWG members.”

In the letter, the ATWG urges increased rail competition, implementation of financial incentives for railroads to perform more efficiently, and additional data reporting on the part of the railroads. The group also supports a petition that would permit rail customers to levy financial penalties on railroads for inefficient use of private railcars.

In related news, Progressive Farmer reports that four Class I railroads have been summoned to Washington, D.C., by the Surface Transportation Board over alleged poor service. Read the article here.