Hoeven: CP Railway making capital investments to improve capacity
October 8, 2014
Senator John Hoeven has been pressing Canadian Pacific Railway Company (CP) to come up with a plan to reduce agriculture shipment delay. Friday, CP's Vice President of Marketing reported that the company is investing additional resources to its North Dakota customers and has implemented a new, more transparent service offering and report to the Surface Transportation Board.
"We will continue to press Canadian Pacific to devote the resources necessary to catch up on agriculture shipments until they are up to date," Hoeven said. "Last week, a review of their situation showed progress, though clearly they will need to do more in terms of resources and staff to meet the demands of North Dakota's growing economy. With the harvest in full swing, we need to ensure the railroad is doing all it can to meet not only this year's needs, but also next year's."
In mid-August, when Hoeven invited CP officials to North Dakota to meet with shippers and agriculture groups, the company was spotting 1,900 cars a week to customers. Last week that figure was over 2,700, company officials say. The company is also working to improve turnaround times for its trains by implementing centralized train control, which reduces the need for stops and slow-downs and increases turnarounds, enabling more freight to move more quickly.
For shuttle shippers, CP has instituted a new system that dedicates train load capacity directly to customers for the duration of a crop year. Non-shuttle shippers will now be able to book cars each week for four consecutive weeks on a rolling basis, updating their orders weekly.
The company's progress was reported to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) using a new, more transparent method showing that CP has reduced its open requests to 3,000 cars as of last week from 4,200, with an average delay of 10 weeks.
Hoeven has also been pressing CP to provide additional resources and staff to help meet North Dakota's shipping needs now and in the future. On Friday, the company told the senator it is committed to investing more than $1.3 billion in capital investments companywide in 2014, including $500 million of upgrades in its U.S. system over the next two years. Of the $500 million, CP plans to invest $180 million to increase capacity, including new sidings and centralized train control.
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Hoeven said he will continue to work with CP and the STB to ensure the company improves service for shippers and elevators.
The senator has been working since this past spring to address delays in rail shipping, first by urging timely delivery of fertilizer and other products needed for spring planting. In July, the senator met with STB Chairman Daniel R. Elliott to address concerns about backlogs on agriculture rail shipments.
Last month, Hoeven hosted two roundtables with rail industry executives, agricultural producers and commodity groups in North Dakota about improving rail service in the state and the impacts of shipping delays. During those meetings, Hoeven emphasized the importance of addressing the backlog prior to the fall harvest.