State STB to require data reports from Class I railroads

Farm Forum

The Surface Transportation Board announced on Oct. 8 that it is requiring all Class I railroads to publicly file weekly data reports, a move that was supported in separate statements by U.S. Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) and Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

The reports regarding service performance are designed to promote industry-wide transparency, accountability, and improved service.

“I welcome the additional transparency the STB is seeking from the nation’s largest freight railroads as service delays continue to cause challenges for agriculture producers and other shippers across the country,” Thune, Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, said in a news release.

This order follows the Board’s recent public hearings regarding rail service issues, at which many rail shippers expressed concerns about the lack of publicly available rail service metrics and requested access to certain performance data from the railroads to help them better understand the scope, magnitude, and impact of the current service problems. The data collected pursuant to this order will give the Board and interested parties a better real-time understanding of the current rail service issues.

“The state’s departments of Transportation and Agriculture have been working with my office on this issue daily since March, and each month the Surface Transportation Board has become more engaged on the issue,” said Daugaard in a news release. “Grain leaving South Dakota must navigate a complicated transportation network that is affected by many factors. With the information the STB has ordered, shippers can see for themselves how efficiently, or inefficiently, their grain is moving into the marketplace.”

The order will require all class I railroads to report certain information each week to the Surface Transportation Board, including grain train speeds, dwell times, oil train volumes and the amount of grain moved from each state classified by the type of grain.