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Shortline Caucus

Caucus Meeting Highlights

On May 3-4, BNSF’s Shortline Caucus held its first meeting of 2017 in Modesto, Calif. Caucus members in attendance believed the business outlook for the next six months will be the same or better. BNSF’s service performance and its interaction with shortlines in the sales and marketing areas were also rated the same or better by the majority of Caucus members.

BNSF leadership provided a service update, as well as industrial products and agricultural products business overviews to the Caucus members. Below are the highlights from these presentations:

Matt Igoe, BNSF vice president, Service Design & Performance:

  • BNSF’s safety vision is to operate free of accidents and injuries – preventing them in the first place through training, technology and safety programs.
  • While above levels for 2015, overall network performance (average train velocity of all trains) is currently about 11 percent lower year-to-date compared to 2016, which was BNSF’s all-time record year for velocity.
  • Terminal dwell is higher year-to-date primarily due to severe weather/frequent winter storms in the first quarter, which caused significant service challenges across much of the Northern Corridor.
  • BNSF has deployed additional resources, such as locomotive power and more train crews, in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) to address service issues.
  • BNSF’s planned 2017 capital investment program is $3.4 billion.

John Miller, BNSF vice president, Agricultural Products:

  • Brazil’s 2017 crop is up 37% compared to 2016.
  • Ocean freight spreads are at their highest levels since 2014.
  • BNSF PNW grain exports set records in 2016.
  • Corn and soybean production are projected to remain strong.
  • U.S. grain supplies are at their highest levels in nearly 30 years.
  • Record 2016/2017 corn and soybean exports.

Tom Williams, BNSF vice president, Industrial Products:

  • 5 of 15 commodity groups are reporting higher volumes in 2017 vs. 2016.
  • Crude unit train volumes continue to decline with the commissioning of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
  • Sand unit train volumes continue to increase with higher oil rig counts and more sand consumed per well.
  • 75% of BNSF sand volumes are forecasted to move in unit trains.
  • Manifest carload shipments will continue to play an important role in BNSF’s industrial products business.

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