|A lack of available trains has wheat piled up on the ground at the Cargill facility in Byers, CO.|
(Karl Gehring, The Denver Post)
Electric utilities in Colorado have watched their coal supplies drop in recent months because of clogged capacity on the nation's rail lines. The congestion's biggest impact so far is on coal transport, but other commodities such as oil, grain, and manufactured goods also are experiencing shipping delays. Federal regulators and grain shippers are particularly concerned about capacity constraints as this year's wheat harvest is piling up at shipping terminals.
Part of the shortage stems from a surge in domestic crude oil production, some of which is transported in rail tank cars. Analysts say other factors include an improving economy that is pushing demand for rail transportation, and the severe winter of 2013-14 that hampered rail operations.