BNSF lifts embargo on shipments to California
The BNSF railroad has announced it will lift its restrictions on shipments to California on September 4th. In late June, the BNSF began limiting shipments of some goods, including some agricultural produce, in a bid to improve performance.
A number of grain raw materials and foodstuffs have been exempt from the restrictions since July. BNSF said the embargo has allowed the railroad to “significantly reduce backlogs and increase efficiencies for trains traveling both to and within California and throughout our network.”
Across its network, BNSF’s unfulfilled grain wagon orders have improved significantly since peaking in early June. However, BNSF’s average number of round-trip grain shuttle train trips to California remains well below average.
In 2021, 51 percent of US railroad Class I grain truckloads came from BNSF, so strong performance from BNSF will be required to minimize disruption to the upcoming harvest.
ATRI updates 2022 report on truck operating costs
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) recently updated its annual 2022 report, An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking, which is based on 2021 financial data from auto transport companies. According to the report, the total marginal cost of trucking rose 12.7 percent in 2021 to $1,855 per mile ($74.65 per hour), the highest on record.
Much of this increase was due to three factors: fuel (35.4 percent higher than in 2020); repair and maintenance (18.2 percent higher than 2020); and driver wages (10.8 percent higher than 2020). Overall, fleets with 100 trucks or fewer spent 4.9 cents more per mile than fleets with more than 100 trucks – closing the gap between small and large fleets by 70 percent in 2020.
Among other things, idle power dropped to 14.8 percent, and the truck’s average fuel economy increased to 6.65 miles per gallon. Large fleets spent less than small fleets on insurance premiums per mile, but had higher incident costs per mile.
FMC invites comments on potentially mandatory information sharing
The Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) is soliciting public comment by September 14 on whether supply chain congestion is bad enough to warrant an emergency order requiring information sharing to resolve the issue. The contemplated FMC emergency order would oblige joint carriers and ship terminal operators to exchange critical information with shippers, truck drivers and railroads.
The Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022 authorizes the FMC to issue such an emergency order after seeking comment on three questions: whether the congestion has significantly affected the competitiveness and reliability of the ocean transportation system; whether an emergency order from the FMC would alleviate the situation; and what would be the appropriate scope of an FMC emergency order.
Snapshots by Sector
In the week ended Aug. 11, unshipped backlogs of wheat, corn and soybeans totaled 12.64 million tons, up 6 percent from the same time last year and down 9 percent from the previous week is equivalent to.
Corn net export sales were 0.099 mmt, down 48 percent from the previous week. Soybean net export sales came in at 0.097, up sharply from the previous week. Weekly net wheat export sales for the 2022/23 marketing year were 0.207 mmt, down 42 percent from the previous week.
U.S. Class I railroads produced 21,408 grain carloads in the week ended August 13. This was an increase of 7 percent from the previous week, 11 percent more than the previous year and 2 percent more than the 3-year average.
Average bids/offers for commuter train second railcars in September (per car) for the week ended August 18 were $485 over the rate. That was $25 up from last week and $536 up this week from last week. This week there were no bids/offers without a shuttle.
Grain shipments by ship for the week ended August 20 totaled 360,585 tons. This was 33 percent down from the previous week and 10 percent down from the same period last year.
In the week ending August 20, 220 grain barges sailed down the river — 121 fewer than last week. In the New Orleans area, 649 grain barges were unloaded, up 37 percent from last week.
In the week ended August 18, 26 ocean-going grain ships were loaded in the Gulf — 8 percent more than the same period last year. Within the next 10 days (from August 19) 32 ships should be loaded – 3 percent more than in the same period last year.
On August 18, the price to ship a metric ton (mt) of grain from the US Gulf to Japan was $63.00. That was 4 percent less than in the previous week. The rate from the Pacific Northwest to Japan was $36.50 per tonne, down 4 percent from the previous week.
For the week ended August 22, the average US diesel fuel price decreased 0.2 cents from the previous week to $4,909 per gallon, up 158.5 cents from the same week last year.