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Rail News: Shippers

Ag shippers rank Class Is on customer service; UP comes in first


Agricultural shippers gave mixed reviews to U.S. and Canadian Class I railroads in the sixth annual Soy Transportation Coalition's (STC) railroad "report card."

For the fourth time, Union Pacific Railroad ranked in the latest survey as the "top performing railroad," while BNSF Railway Co. was rated "most improved," STC officials said in a press release.

The survey — completed anonymously by agricultural shippers of various sizes and scale of operations — has asked the same 11 questions since the report card's inception. The 2015 survey was completed and submitted from September through November.

Questions fall under three categories: on-time performance, customer service and costs. For most questions, respondents are asked to rate each of the seven Class Is on a scale from one to 10, with 10 being the highest and one being the lowest.

After combing results from all 11 questions, UP received the highest overall rating, ranking first in eight out of the 11 questions. Canadian Pacific rated as the lowest performing railroad, receiving a last place ranking in nine of the 11 questions.

UP, BNSF and CP received higher overall scores in 2015 compared with 2014 scores. CSX Transportation, Norfolk Southern Corp., CN and Kansas City Southern were given lower overall scores, STC officials said.

The overall STC rail customer satisfaction index ranked the following based on overall ratings: UP was first; BNSF, second; CSX, third; NS, fourth; CN, fifth; KCS, sixth; and CP, seventh.

The overall results across the seven railroads in 2015 was 1 percent lower than in 2014. The increased ratings for certain railroads was balanced by lower ratings for others.

The 2015 survey respondents rated railroads 17 percent higher in their ability to provide on-time service, and 5 percent higher in customer service.

"Railroads are essential to the profitability of the U.S. agriculture," said STC Chairman Scott Gauslow, a soybean farmer from Colfax, N.D. "Even though farmers in many states, like North Dakota, may be far removed from our coasts and our nation's inland waterway system, our freight railroads allow our production to be exported throughout the world."

Full results of the survey are available on the STC website.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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