It's getting harder to hitch a ride—unless you're shipping crude

Writing in Food Business News, Ron Sterk talks about challenges agricultural shippers face after a brutal winter and stiff competition for rail capacity

At what may have been the peak of the logistics problems in January, several flour mills and sugar refineries were forced to slow operations or temporarily close during a period of extremely cold and snowy weather. Severe cold slows switching activity and reduces the effectiveness of air brakes, forcing railroads to run more but shorter trains, which may add to congestion. While the most severe of those conditions appear to have eased, in part as grain millers and sugar factories added trucks to supplement slow rail shipments, the problems are far from over, and in some cases may have continued to worsen.