USDA and NGFA Express Concern to Surface Transportation Board Over Rail Service

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) expressed concern to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) on Wednesday (March 30) about worsening rail service.

An earlier, March 24 letter from the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) described “significant rail service disruptions,” including facilities that have been unable to ship out or receive grain by rail.

According to STB’s latest service metrics (posted March 23), train speeds for grain across the four major U.S. Class I railroads were 2% lower than prior years, origin dwell times for grain were up 60%, and the number of unfilled grain car orders was up 152%.

At the same time, premiums paid in the secondary market for shuttle service have escalated significantly in recent weeks.

For the week ending March 24, bids/offers were $2,500 higher than average for shuttle railcars delivered in April and $1,200 higher for May.

USDA urged STB take action in the immediate term to improve rail service and to move forward with proceedings that would improve service in the future.