BNSF: Emergency service orders won't help shippers
BNSF officials say they have “fallen short on executing from a service perspective,” but that emergency service orders or other edicts from the Surface Transportation Board would hurt the railroad's ability to improve customer service.
In an April 28 letter to the agency, Stevan Bobb, BNSF’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer, further responded to comments made in an April 10 hearing on railroad service issues. Shippers, he wrote, had asked for emergency orders so they could maximize recovery efforts.
“We are extremely concerned that any agency service directive would seriously undercut the significant efforts being made to return network velocity and, overall, worsen service for the large majority of BNSF's customers,” he wrote. “The board has previously acknowledged that such orders are an extraordinary remedy, which should only be used sparingly and where circumstances clearly warrant. Current circumstances do not warrant this extreme step of redirecting the ongoing massive efforts to restore service levels across our network.”
Bobb wrote that BNSF is in the best position to consider all the moving parts involved in improving service levels, and these plans have been detailed to the board. If, he wrote, the board enacted requirements meant to help one group of shippers or shippers in a certain area, that move would only hurt other customers. He pointed out that the National Grain and Feed Association told the board that enacting temporary measures would only get in the way of a BNSF recovery.
“We believe that even more severe impacts would likely result from the introduction of alternative carrier access on areas of our network that are currently stressed,” Bobb wrote. “Our strong belief is that introduction of a second carrier into congested terminals or line segments would not be helpful
to fluidity, and could also significantly degrade our already stressed network's performance.”
Bobb also took issue with the request, brought by shippers at the hearing, to require railroads to submit more detailed reporting on shipments down to the commodity level. Calling it “counterproductive,” he wrote that the data won’t ultimately help shippers and won’t help BNSF improve any faster.
“Such mandated additional reporting requirements would have the potential to skew service recovery toward the favored shippers … at the expense of shippers of other commodities, which would not be appropriate,” he wrote.
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