NY Times Spotlights Delay in Grain Rail Shipments

Aaron Flint posted on August 26, 2014 15:57 :: 940 Views

Before you look at The New York Times story concerning delays in Bakken area ag products via rail, check out this piece from SayAnythingBlog.com’s Rob Port out of Minot, ND.

SayAnythingBlog.com: We Can’t Talk About Delayed Grain Shipments Without Talking About Delayed Pipelines

Given that the average rail tanker holds roughly 1,000 barrels of oil, we’re talking about the Keystone project alone taking a 100-tanker car oil train off the tracks every day.

That would go a long way toward creating some rail bandwidth for all those grain shipments, don’t you think? According to the Times article, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway has a 1,336 backlog for rail car shipments. Canadian Pacific has about a 1,000 rail car backlog.

Those backlogs could be alleviated in about 3 weeks with the capacity freed up by the Keystone XL pipeline were it in place. In fact, we might not even have those backlogs were that pipeline operating.

New York Times: Grain Piles Up, Waiting for a Ride, as Trains Move North Dakota Oil

But reports the railroads filed with the federal government show that for the week that ended Aug. 22, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway — North Dakota’s largest railroad, owned by the billionaire Warren E. Buffett — had a backlog of 1,336 rail cars waiting to ship grain and other products. Another railroad, Canadian Pacific, had a backlog of nearly 1,000 cars.

For farmers, the delays often mean canceled orders from food giants that cannot wait weeks or months for the grain they need to make cereal, bread and an array of other products. “They need to get this problem fixed,” Mr. Hejl said. “I’m losing money, and my customers are turning to other sources as a result. I don’t know how much longer we can survive like this.”

This month, federal Agriculture Department officials said they were particularly concerned that Canadian Pacific would not be able to fulfill nearly 30,000 requests from farmers and others for rail cars before October. As a result, North Dakota’s congressional delegation and lawmakers in Minnesota and South Dakota have called on the Surface Transportation Board, which oversees the nation’s railroads, to step up pressure on the companies.

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