Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Soy Transportation Coalition survey gives railroads “mixed grades”

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Leading U.S. grain and oilseed shippers offered “mixed grades” to U.S. Class I railroads in the first annual Soy Transportation Coalition (STC) Rail Customer Satisfaction Index. The Ankeny, Iowa-based group says the survey was “completed anonymously by grain and oilseed shippers of various size and scale of operations.”

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“While respondents overall provided higher ratings for the rail industry’s customer service efforts, concern was consistently expressed at the costs of railservice and how they are communicated. In addition to mixed grades being given across the three performance categories, respondents also provided different ratings for U.S.-based railroads and their Canadian-based counterparts,” the coalition says, referring to Canadian National and Canadian Pacific.

Eleven questions in the survey covered issues ranging from on-time performance to customer service and costs.

“The STC survey reflects the perspectives of those who ship the overwhelming majority of grain and oilseeds in this country,” said Mike Steenhoek, the coalition’s executive director. “We do not claim the survey is the definitive barometer on the performance of the rail industry. The survey is subjective and gauges customer attitudes. These attitudes have been developed by the movement of millions of bushels of grain and oilseeds. As a result, the survey results do serve to further instruct and illuminate our understanding of the extent to which the rail industry is meeting the needs of their agricultural customers.”