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Shortline Caucus

Caucus Meeting Highlights

BNSF's Shortline Caucus was established to improve communication between BNSF and its connecting shortlines. Caucus meetings are held twice per year with the purpose of addressing issues and opportunities facing BNSF and our shortlines. The caucus includes 14 shortline members, along with the President of the ASLRRA.

See a list of BNSF's Shortline Caucus members.

The BNSF Shortline Caucus met on Oct. 18, 2017, while members were in Fort Worth, Texas, attending BNSF’s annual Shortline Conference. Here are the highlights from the caucus session:

  • Straw Poll results from caucus members (13 members present):
    • Business Outlook for next 3-6 months
      • Better = 6
      • Same = 6
      • Worse = 1
    • BNSF Service performance
      • Better = 1
      • Same = 12
      • Worse = 0
    • Interaction with BNSF Marketing & Sales performance
      • Better = 2
      • Same = 11
      • Worse = 0
    • Interaction with BNSF Shortline group performance
      • Better = 8
      • Same = 5
      • Worse = 0
  • Caucus members reviewed the results of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) survey of BNSF shortlines. Overall satisfaction ratings were lower compared to 2016 ratings. In 2017, forty-three percent of shortline respondents indicated that they were either "Entirely Satisfied" or "Very Satisfied" with BNSF, compared to the fifty-one percent who felt the same way in 2016.
  • Shortlines indicated that rate competitiveness is a priority for improvement. Service/Interchange related items were also indicated as important areas for improvement.
  • In 2017, fifty-one percent of respondents indicated that they were successful in attracting new joint line traffic with BNSF, and fifty-nine percent indicated that they expect to divert traffic from truck to rail in the next year.
  • Sam Sexhus, BNSF group vice president, Agricultural Products, and Angela Caddell, vice president, Industrial Products, provided updates on their respective business areas.
  • Sexhus gave an overall market update discussing the state of the agriculture industry. Key points from his presentation included:
    • Worldwide production of agricultural products is increasing faster than worldwide demand, thus, the high number of international stocks of beans, corn and wheat make it more difficult for U.S. crops to compete.
    • In particular, the record Russian wheat crop and drought in Australia could impact demand for North American wheat.
    • Also, Brazil and Argentina have been aggressive sellers of corn, making it difficult for U.S. exports to compete.
  • Caddell mentioned the importance of shortlines to BNSF’s Industrial Products business. Shortlines participate in a significant portion of BNSF’s IP shipments. Key points from her presentation included:
    • Single family housing starts are trending up, with 1.2 million housing starts in 2017 and projected to grow slightly for 2018.
    • Proppant (frac sand) demand continues to grow substantially. An emerging threat to the growth in frac sand rail movements is the producers looking to put native sand/stone in wells.
    • Steel global market factors will continue to influence the U.S. market.
  • The next BNSF shortline caucus meeting will take place in the spring of 2018. If you have any concerns or items of interest, please contact one of your BNSF caucus members.

Caucus Directory