Rail car shortage felt in the Heartland

Rail car shortage felt in the Heartland

SCOTT COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - A rail car backlog is creating shipping problems for companies as they try to move their product.

When the recession was in full swing back in 2009, railroad operators stored hundreds of thousands of rail cars and cut their staff.

But now that the shipping business is back up and running, a rail car shortage is creating delays when it comes to moving goods from point A to point B.

The shortage of freight cars has really had an impact on automakers as car sales have started to rebound.

Now, experts say rail companies are having a hard time responding to a surge in demand.

The most recent data by the Association of American Railroads shows there's actually around 100,000 less rail cars now than at the height of the recession.

It can even be felt here in the Heartland, like at the Southeast Missouri Regional Port Authority.

"We had a grain shipment we were trying to get out about a month ago," said port authority employee Jackie Prater. "I called to get 10 cars and the guy said yeah you and 300 other people. They were behind 300 orders and he said for you to get cars it would be probably over a year."

Prater said when cars are late, it then creates a trickle down effect.

Suppliers aren't able to get their product delivered on time, and buyers are left to wait.

She added that this year's winter weather only compounded the problem by creating delays and stranding rail cars up north.

But to fix delays, some companies are re-routing empty freight cars and mechanics do repairs on site instead of sending railcars off to a maintenance facility.

Copyright 2014 KFVS. All rights reserved.