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BNSF Railway Co.'s agricultural product shipments are about 19 days behind schedule in North Dakota — about the same as other commodity shipments systemwide — and ag shippers should expect to see declines in past-due rail cars throughout April and May, President and Chief Executive Officer Carl Ice told U.S. Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) during meetings held earlier this week.BNSF expects ag product shipments to become current in June, Ice said, according to a press release issued by Hoeven's office.The senators met with Ice to follow up on a range of concerns in the state pertaining to slow-moving ag product traffic, poor Amtrak service and rail safety issues.“North Dakotans and I are rightly concerned about not only the safety of our communities, but also the reliability of rail transportation to carry people and goods in our rapidly growing economy,” said Hoeven. “I again made the point that the company must work with producers and shippers to do all they can to keep our communities safe, our Amtrak trains running on schedule and our agricultural products moving to market."Severe winter weather has reduced BNSF's network velocity, but the railroad recognizes what impact that's having on customers and their business, Ice said.“As we expressed in our February meeting, BNSF is committed to restoring service levels in North Dakota as quickly as possible," he said. "We will continue to provide regular updates on our progress to Sen. Hoeven."Heitkamp recently announced that BNSF has budgeted $247 million for infrastructure improvements in North Dakota this year, including new double track and siding additions."I am hopeful that the recent investments BNSF told me they would make will have an impact, and I’ll to continue to make sure North Dakota rail transportation issues are a top priority for BNSF,” said Heitkamp.
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