BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — BNSF Railway Co. has promised to add more locomotives and crews in an effort to address delays in Amtrak service and agricultural product shipping in North Dakota, the state's congressional delegation said Tuesday.
Increased crude oil and freight shipments largely have been blamed for causing the rail delays. BNSF has said that rail service is being hampered by a wave of blizzards and subzero weather.
Sens. John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer met with BNSF Chairman and CEO Matt Rose and senior officials from American Crystal Sugar Co. and the North Dakota Farmers Union to help resolve shipping delays that have occurred this winter.
"BNSF has to make a resource commitment and they say that's what they'll do," Hoeven told The Associated Press.
BNSF intends to add 5,000 crew members systemwide, including 250 temporary workers in North Dakota, Hoeven said. The railroad also pledged to add 5,000 railcars and 125 temporary locomotives that will be dispatched to North Dakota within the next two weeks.
"Adding locomotives and cars is the biggest thing," Hoeven said.
North Dakota's congressional delegation also was told that BNSF expects its Amtrak service in North Dakota to be running on schedule by month's end. The federally funded rail corporation, which uses BNSF lines, has said the "severe freight train interference" is causing long delays along its Chicago-to-Pacific Northwest Empire Builder route. In North Dakota, Amtrak trains are bypassing the cities of Grand Forks, Devils Lake and Rugby. Passengers in those cities are being bused to either Minot or Fargo to reconnect to westbound or eastbound trains.
Spokeswoman Amy McBeth said BNSF has worked for weeks to reroute some trains and add crews and locomotives. "Those efforts are still ongoing," she said.
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