AAR Wants STB Switching Rules Dropped

The Association of American Railroads this week contended that proposed rules on reciprocal or competitive switching are unlawful and is demanding that the Surface Transportation Board drop them.

STBReciprocal switching refers to a situation in which a railroad has physical access to a specific shipper facility in which it does not own the rails leading to that facility.

The second railroad typically pays the owning railroad in the form of a per-car switching charge.

The AAR contends the STB’s proposed rules are “contrary to the established law dating back well before the Staggers Act and providing that a shipper must show ‘actual necessity’ to obtain an order of forced switching” and that they ignore statutory language that requires a showing of necessity for a switching order

“The rules give no weight to provisions of the Rail Transportation Policy directing the agency to allow market forces to govern railroad commercial activity to the maximum extent possible and to minimize regulatory intervention into the market,” The AAR asserted in a brief filed with the STB.

In a related move, a coalition of organizations that oppose the STB’s proposed reciprocal switching rules has asked Congress to prevent the STB from enforcing them.

The coalition said the rules, if adopted, would return the rail industry to pre-Staggers Act days of heavy regulation by the federal government.

“We believe that freight rail deregulation—culminating in the Staggers Rail Act of 1980—represents one of the most significant economic policy successes in the history of the United States and that these reforms must be protected,” The Competitive Enterprise Institute argued in a letter sent to members of Congress.

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