Saturday, April 19, 2014
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
When you trot a 580 horsepower Camaro ZL1 to the drag strip, the odds are usually in your favor. Especially when your opponent is wheeling a Ram pickup. The Ram is about as customized as they come, and the Camaro is mostly stock. So, it’s not unreasonable that the truck leaves the pony car in its wake. However, it’s still impressive as the Ram’s performance in the quarter-mile assured this race was never even close.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
TCA, GRAPEVINE, TX – Bison Transport, Winnipeg, Manitoba, was named the 2014 Best Overall Fleet to Drive for, company drivers, at the Truckload Carriers Association annual meeting March 25 while Paramount Freight System, Ft. Meyers, Fla., was named the 2014 Best Fleet Overall Fleet to Drive For, Owner Operators.
These two fleets were tops in driver and owner-operator survey conducted by the Truckload Carriers Association. Twenty fleets made the top in the survey with Bison and Paramount ranking highest.
The award is based on company driver or owner-operator nominations. Next, nominated fleets must complete a corporate questionnaire that collect information about programs the companies are involved in re: drivers or owner-operators. A corporate interview follows, and finally, a selection of drivers and owner-operators is surveyed about their experiences with the nominated fleet.
Also among the 20 top-ranked fleets this year were: Brian Kurtz Trucking, Breslau, Ontario; Central Oregon Trucking, Redmond, Ore.; D.J. Knoll Transport, Emerald Park, Saskatchewan; Fremont Contract Carriers, Fremont, Neb; FTC Transportation, Oklahoma City, Okla.; Gordon Trucking, Pacific, Wash.; Grammer Industries, Grammer, Ind.; Grand Island Express, Grand Island, Neb.; Halvor Lines, Superior, Wisc.; Kriska Holdings, Prescott, Ontario; Landstar System, Jacksonville, Fla.; Load One, Taylor, Mich.; Motor Carrier Services, Northwood, Ohio; Prime, Inc., Springfield, Mo.; Sue Vinje Trucking, Superior, Wash.; TimeLine Logistics International, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; TransPro Freight Systems, Milton, Ontario and Trimac Transpiration, Calgary, Alberta/Houston, Texas.
Saturday, April 12, 2014
Come to the west side of Chicago to find out why a power plant in Michiganis short of coal and a biodiesel maker in Brewster, Minnesota, can’t get enough grain.
The answer is found near Western Avenue, where rail cars from Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM), the largest U.S. publicly traded ethanol producer, rest idle on the track above the Dwight D. Eisenhower Expressway. A short drive away a burnt orange, yellow and black locomotive from Warren Buffett’s BNSF railway sits on an overpass as motor traffic is snarled below.
They can’t move because increasing oil production from North Dakota’s Bakken field, a record grain crop and unprecedented cold weather overwhelmed the U.S. railroad system. In part because of transport delays, coal inventories were down 26 percent in January from a year ago. A quarter of all U.S. freight rail traffic passes through Chicago, or 37,500 rail cars each day. The trip through the city can take more than 30 hours.
“Utilities are having a tough time getting the coal that they already purchased,” Ted O’Brien, vice president at Doyle Trading Consultants LLC, a Grand Junction, Colorado-based coal analytics company, said in a March 14 interview. “It would be a feeding frenzy if they had the transportation to get it.”
Transport snarls are one reason coal on the New York Mercantile Exchange has risen 5.5 percent in the past year to $60.48 a ton as of yesterday. Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal has jumped 26 percent to $13.05 a ton. Power-plant demand for the fuel is forecast to increase 4.9 percent to the highest level since 2011. Utilities had about 132 million tons of thermal coal, used to generate electricity, in inventory in January, the lowest since 2006, data from the Energy Department’s analytical arm show.
Coal producers including the Western Coal Traffic League, whose members are shippers of coal mined west of the Mississippi River, point at inconsistent rail service as the primary culprit and railroads put the blame on Chicago. The group asked on March 24 that the U.S. Surface Transportation Board institute a proceeding to address BNSF’s coal service in the region.
BNSF said in a response to the agency that it plans to spend $5 billion this year on service. “As these resources come on line, service will gradually improve,” it said in a March 25 letter.
The railroad will need the rest of this year to untangle the train tie-ups in the corridor that serves the Bakken field, BNSF Chief Executive Officer Carl Ice said in an April 2 interview. He said the line deployed 300 additional crew members to its northern region and plans to add 500 locomotives and 5,000 rail cars to ease the congestion.
The tie-ups at BNSF will be worked out in time to handle the next harvest and it plans to increase velocity through Chicago, Robert Lease, vice president for service design and performance, said at an STB hearing on rail service yesterday in Washington.
Jeff Wallace, vice president of fuel services at Southern Co. (SO) in Atlanta told the STB March 6 that he surveyed 13 utilities and they said rail service has struggled to respond to demand and that some are running out of coal.
Midwest Energy Resources Company, a subsidiary of DTE Energy Co. (DTE), and responsible for feeding coal to the utility’s power plants in Michigan, has had problems getting rail deliveries from the Powder River Basin, Robert Sarvela, the company’s director of transportation and marketing, said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Other commodity producers have voiced similar concerns. Ethanol futures last month reached $3.517 a gallon on the Chicago Board of Trade, the highest level in more than seven years.
“There’s collective sentiment about inefficient turn-around times on rail cars,” said Mark Ruyack, a manager at StarFuels Inc., a Jupiter, Florida-based alternative energy broker, in an April 4 telephone interview.
Minnesota Soybean Processors, a biodiesel company, said that rail service has been so inconsistent that it has had to trim operations in Brewster.
“We’re two to three weeks behind,” said Taryl Enderson, the plant’s general manager in an interview on March 5. “We’re at 75 percent” capacity, he said.
Grain handlers say their business is a casualty of the shale boom. As horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing made the U.S. the world’s biggest shale producer, shipments by rail grew 74 percent in 2013 from 2012, American Association of Railroads data show.
“What we’re concerned about is that the oil business is expanding faster than the rail company’s ability to handle it,” Steve Strege, a vice president of the North Dakota Grain Dealers Association, said in a Feb. 12 telephone interview.
Dwell times, a measure of how long loaded railroad cars sit in a railyard, averaged about 26 hours during the first quarter, up from 21 hours during the same period in 2013, AAR data show.
Trains are getting mired in Chicago’s tangle of bottlenecks, said Charles Clowdis, an IHS Global Insight analyst in Lexington, Massachusetts.
“A lot of interchange points, like Chicago, are still a mess,” he said in an interview on March 25. “Coal has come back because of the cold winter, oil by tanker is relatively new. Now all of a sudden you have all these tank cars pulling crude oil and you just can’t get cars.”
To contact the reporters on this story: Mario Parker in Chicago at email@example.com; Eliot Caroom in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Dan Stets at email@example.com Philip Revzinhttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-10/chicago-30-hour-tie-up-for-buffett-s-trains-slows-coal-freight.html
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
On Tuesday, March 25, a fleet executive panel at the Truckload Carriers Association Annual Convention responded to the possibility of electronic logging devices (ELDs) being a Trojan horse to reform driver pay.