STB Issues Notices in 3 Dumurrage Cases

In three notices the U.S. Surface Transportation Board is taking on the contention issue of demurrage, which are fees charged by railroads to shippers who hold onto freight cars for a longer period of time than that had set by the carrier.

In Policy Statement on Demurrage and Accessorial Rules and Charges, docket No. EP 757, the STB said it “is issuing this proposed policy statement to provide the public with information on principles the Board would consider in evaluating the reasonableness of demurrage and accessorial rules and charges.”

Public comment is being sought in this case through Nov. 6, 2019, while reply comments are due by Dec. 6, 2019.

The second case is docket No. 760—Exclusion of Demurrage Regulation From Certain Class Exemptions.

In its ruling it said, “The STB proposes to clarify its regulations governing exemptions for certain miscellaneous commodities and boxcar transportation so that those regulations unambiguously state that demurrage continues to be subject to Board regulation.

“The Board also proposes to revoke, in part, the exemption that currently covers certain agricultural commodities so that the exemption would not apply to the regulation of demurrage, thereby making the agricultural commodities exemption consistent with similar exemptions covering non-intermodal transportation.”

Comments on this proposed notice are due by Nov. 6, with reply comments due by Dec. 6, 2019.

The final notice in docket No. 759, Demurrage Billing Requirements, said the STB “proposes changes to the Board’s regulations governing demurrage liability. Specifically, the Board proposes certain requirements regarding Class I carriers’ demurrage invoices, as well as a requirement that a Class I carrier directly bill the shipper if the shipper and warehouseman agree to that arrangement and have so notified the rail carrier.”

Public comments to this notice are due by Nov. 6 with a Dec. 6 reply comments deadline.

Railway Age reported that the cases are in response to shippers who want the STB to rule that railroads cannot unilaterally bill shippers and demand payment without providing more factual information.” observed Railway Age Capitol Hill Contributing Editor Frank. N. Wilner.

The STB had last May held a two day hearing on railroad demurrage and accessorial charges.

That hearing was prompted by significant recent changes in demurrage and accessorial rules made by several Class I railroads.

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