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UP tops Soy Transportation Coalition's 2011 shipper satisfaction index

Union Pacific Railroad ranked as the top-performing Class I by leading U.S. agricultural shippers in a second annual “Rail Customer Satisfaction Index” released by the Soy Transportation Coalition (STC). The index is based on a shipper poll the coalition conducted earlier this year.

BNSF Railway Co. ranked second and CN — which registered a 38 percent increase in its score from 2010, when it finished last — placed third among the seven Class Is. Norfolk Southern Railway was fourth, followed by CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern and Canadian Pacific.

The 2011 survey was completed anonymously by agricultural shippers of various sizes and scale of operations, and included the same 11 questions from the 2010 survey, according to the STC. Questions addressed topics such as on-time performance, customer service and rates. Most questions asked participants to rate each Class I on a 1-to-10 scale, with 10 the highest score.

UP finished first in eight of the 11 questions. BNSF, the top-rated Class I last year, slipped to second place and was the only railroad to register a lower aggregate score compared with the previous year, according to the STC. Overall, railroads received higher ratings for customer service than for rate issues; respondents continued to suggest railroads could better explain rail-service costs, coalition officials said in a prepared statement.

“Last year, our nation’s railroads were confronted with the challenge of not only accommodating an abundant harvest, but also having to do so in a very compressed period of time,” said STC Executive Director Mike Steenhoek. “While many concerns continue to linger, agricultural shippers are increasingly pleased with the rail service they are receiving.”

The seven Class Is annually transport more than 24 million tons of soybeans, 17 million tons of soybean meal and 6 million tons of soybean oil, according to the coalition.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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