Railroad commits additional grain trains
PIERRE — Railroad lines serving South Dakota shippers have committed to providing three additional grain trains per week, Gov. Dennis Daugaard said Monday.
The governor received that commitment from the Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad (RCP&E) and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) during a meeting with leaders of the rail lines last week in Washington, D.C.
"With historically large harvests back to back, South Dakota needs the best service it can get from its rail carriers, so this is a welcome development, and it should provide some relief to those who depend on the RCP&E line,'' Daugaard said. "We had a very productive meeting with our rail partners about their plans to provide optimal service to South Dakota shippers and producers.''
Though the line has been sold to the RCP&E, the Canadian Pacific Railway will still be an integral part of South Dakota's agriculture shipping because it moves RCP&E freight from Tracy, Minn., to consumers in Minnesota, Illinois and beyond.
"It was not wholly unexpected that there were some complications in the hand-off from the Canadian Pacific to the RCP&E,'' said South Dakota Agriculture Secretary Lucas Lentsch. "It was unfortunate that these service issues arose in June and July, when we were getting ready to take in the 2014 harvest. I am pleased to see train volumes increasing now, though, and this addition of three more grain trains a week should give producers and shippers some relief.''
"Railroads, however, are just part of the story," he said. "Producers and shippers need to make plans for what they can do to manage these large harvests. Make room now to store your grain wherever you can."
South Dakota Transportation Secretary Darin Bergquist said railroads suffered complications last year in moving freight due to the exceptionally cold and snowy winter.
"If we have another winter like last year, everyone can expect things to slow down again,'' Bergquist said. "So we are hoping for the best but encouraging people to be prepared for the worst."