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Published April 14, 2014, 02:45 PM

BNSF weekly report shows uneven progress on delays

Shuttle train turnaround times to the Pacific Northwest increased somewhat in the past week, according to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. Those turnarounds, however, are still slower than grain elevators say they can accept.

By: Mikkel Pates, Agweek

Shuttle train turnaround times to the Pacific Northwest increased somewhat in the past week, according to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. Those turnarounds, however, are still slower than grain elevators say they can accept.

John Miller, BNSF’s group vice president for agricultural products, in a weekly podcast on April 11, said the company is seeing gradual improvements but is still dealing with challenges because of volume moving through the company’s Chicago Division. Movement of fertilizer is “reaching a very important stage for many customers in the upper Midwest,” Miller noted. “We do expect to see continued gradual improvements even if uneven,” Miller said.

He offered these statistics:

•Overall shuttle turns per month: 2.4, up from two the previous week and the highest in a month and a half.

•Pacific Northwest shuttles: 2.2 per month, up from 1.8 per month. The company is striving for 2.5, Miller said. In the past, elevator operators have said the goal was three turns per month to Pacific Northwest ports, and some say 2.5 is not enough.

•Gulf of Mexico shuttles: 2.8 per month, down from 3.8 the previous week and slightly lower than in late February.

Past-due non-shuttle late cars were 15,099 system-wide, with average days late at 26.7. Both ratings were about the same as the previous week, but higher than a month ago.

Reports state by state:

•North Dakota: 7, 216 cars, about the same as the previous week, but down 4 percent from the peak on March 28, but still 1,700 cars greater than Feb. 27. The average continues to rise at 26.1 days late.

•South Dakota: 1,022 cars late is 26 percent better than the March 28 peak, but average days late is 28.7, up more than a day from the previous week, but down 8 percent from the peak on March 28.

•Minnesota: 1,313 cars late, down 18 percent from the high mark on March 28. Late cars averaged 23.5 days late, down about 3.4 days from last week, but about the same as March 20 and earlier.

•Montana: 3,300 cars late, down 5 percent from the previous week, which was the most late for the past nine weeks. The average is 31.6 days late, the worst in the four-state area, and the highest for that state in the past six weeks.

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