TEGMA Forms Rail Car Seals Task Force

TEGMA serves as a vehicle to surface issues among our members. When certain issues in the industry arise, TEGMA first addresses them in the Issues Committee, and then when appropriate, forms Task Forces to address them specifically.

The Rail Car Seals task force was the result of discussions regarding railcar seals at the last TEGMA Issues Committee meeting. Members of the committee are:

  • Jon Setterdahl, Farmers Cooperative Company (Chair)
  • Shane Berrett, Gavilon GrainJoe Griffith, Bartlett Grain
  • Dustin Buntrock, South Dakota Wheat Growers
  • Greg Edelblute, Cereal Foods
  • Darren Winiski, Union Pacific
  • William Heileman, BNSF Railway

The committee has met via conference call in December and has another called planned prior to the Annual Meeting. Current issues being discussed in amongst the Task Force:

Cable Seals Difficult to Remove
Recent incidences across the US where shippers have received cars with heavy cable seals that require bolt cutters or other such devices to remove the seals. Such seals require extra resources and time, and most importantly reduces time for loading. However, industry standard plastic seals are too easily broken if present.

Plastic Seals Failing to Stay Intact
Complaints have been received from receivers that the plastic seals are not arriving intact causing some receivers to reject cars. It has been suggested that this is perhaps the reason that shippers have gone to the steel cable seals. The cost of changing to higher strength seals is almost 10 times as much. However, all agricultural carriers are required to have cable seals for claims purposes.

Mexico Shipments
Reports that all cars going to Mexico have the top seals broken so that fumigation can be performed just prior to entering Mexico and cars are required to be sealed for security reasons prior to reentering the United States. The concern is that these actions are causing more cable seals to be arriving at shipper locations. Customs and Board Patrol is currently considering requiring returning cars to be sealed, but no such requirement is currently in place.

Uniform Requirements Across All Carriers
All Class 1 carriers do not have the same requirements for cable seals making it impossible to comply with each carrier when the shipment is transferred between carriers. While uniformity would be desired, this may cause an overall tightening of the seal requirements.

Receiver Burden
Placing cable seals on all shipments may also place a greater burden on receivers that must break these seals. Some may not have fall protection that would allow them to easily make the car ready to load as required.

The Task Force is preparing a report on their current activities to provide to the Board of Directors at the Annual Meeting. The committee was also tasked with contacting other shippers and shuttle receivers to gain a wider perspective of the problem.
If you have any comments or concerns regarding the task force, or the current issues in discussion, please contact Abigail Hiles, abigail.hiles@tegma.org.