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Rail News: Shippers

Soybean board study: Rail infrastructure investments would help spur shift from trucks


More U.S. soybeans could be shipped by rail if the nation's rail system were up to the task, according to a recent study released by the United Soybean Board (USB), which represents the interests of 69 soybean farmers.

Titled, "Maintaining a Track Record of Success," the study shows soybeans are transported more cheaply and efficiently by rail, and more soybean traffic could be diverted from trucks. Currently, millions of bushels of U.S. soybeans crisscross roads, rails and waterways on their way to export markets, USB officials said in a press release.

"The U.S. soy industry needs a transportation system that runs smoothly in order to move our soybeans to markets, and railways are a major part of that," said Jared Hagert, a soybean farmer from Emerado, N.D., and USB coordinator. "A big key to growing markets, both domestic and international, is being able to deliver our soybeans in an efficient manner."

Coordinated by the Soy Transportation Coalition, the study suggests that, if sufficient rail infrastructure investments are made to support soybean industry growth, there would be a gradual shift from truck to rail each year. Rail uses about one-third of the fuel per ton-mile compared with trucks, and can reduce road congestion and the need for highway repairs, the study states.

U.S. soybean exports increasingly are dependent on rail and other modes between September and February. Fluid rail capacity to handle the volume surge during those months is critical to the soy industry in order to continue maximizing soybeans' farm value, USB officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/11/2013