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6/11/2004



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Bleak for peak? STB wants to know how Class Is will meet fall shipping season demands


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Through May, carload traffic is up more than 3 percent and 8 percent for U.S. and Canadian railroads, respectively. That's been good news for Class Is' coffers, but bad news for their overflowing yards and understaffed crews.

Large roads are trying to keep pace with the burgeoning number of rail cars on their networks, but some — notably Union Pacific Railroad and CSX Transportation — have been dealing with decreasing train speeds and mounting terminal dwell times. To Surface Transportation Board Chairman Roger Nober, Class Is' service difficulties based on current traffic levels begs the question: What about the fall peak shipping season?

To get answers, Nober recently sent letters to representatives at all the Class Is asking them to explain how they will handle increasing carloads during the peak season, when rail traffic usually reaches its highest level of the year. Board members want to know the steps each railroad is taking to prepare for the fall peak and how each railroad will share its plan with shippers.

"Our shared objective must continue to be to work toward achieving the
highest possible level of operational efficiency for the railroad industry
and service performance for the shipping public," Nober said in letter.

Although the industry has developed new services and improved customer service, and inter-railroad coordination and cooperation, Nober is concerned about the effects of increasing service demands on Class Is.


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