The Surface Transportation Board has notified the major railroads that it expects them on Thursday to outline plans for moving this fall’s grain harvest to market.
The board is holding an annual meeting in Kansas City Thursday afternoon with its National Grain Car Council, which includes representatives of the Class I railroads as well as grain shippers and short line railroads. The major railroads have been plagued by delays this year which rail executives have blamed on a shortage of workers.
"As you know, in light of current challenges affecting the four largest Class I railroads, the Board is concerned about the Class I railroads’ ability to meet grain shipping needs and is highly focused on whether railroads will have sufficient crew, locomotive, equipment, and capacity resources along key corridors supporting domestic and international markets,” the board says in a letter to executives with the Class I railroads.
“For these reasons, the Board looks forward to the reports of the NGCC railroad members, especially as they relate to their readiness posture in comparison to past years.”
The meeting comes as the National Grain and Feed Association and the Agricultural Transportation Working Group are pushing a bill introduced by House Democrats that would give the board more power to address rail disruptions.
Among other things, the Freight Rail Shipping Fair Market Act would allow shippers to charge railroads demurrage charges for not meeting obligations, just as railroads can now charge shippers.
The Association of American Railroads says the bill would give the STB “overreaching authority to place unnecessary regulations on freight railroads.”
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