Posts Tagged ‘STB rulemaking’

STB Proposes Making Reporting Data a Rule

May 1, 2022

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board is proposing making permanent the voluntary practice of data reporting by Class I carriers.

The carriers report the information about tare weight, and loss and damage through the Association of American Railroads. The data is used by the STB’s Uniform Railroad Costing System.

In a news release, the STB said its proposed new rule would give Class I carriers a choice of whether to provide tare weight and L&D data through AAR or file the data individually.

Comments on the proposed rule due by June 13 with replies due by June 2.

STB Mulls Changing Emergency Service Rules

April 25, 2022

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board is considering amending its emergency service regulations “to provide relief for shippers in situations that require immediate relief.”

The agency said in a proposed rulemaking notice that it will consider changes in how shippers can seek an emergency service order, which is defined as “designed to preserve rail service where there has been a substantial rail service issue or failure that requires immediate relief.”

The rulemaking notice also indicated the STB will consider acting on its own to issue an emergency service order rather than waiting for shippers to seek one.

Other changes in procedure the Board will consider include modifying the informational requirements for parties in emergency service proceedings; shortening the filing deadlines in emergency service proceedings and establishment of a timeframe for Board decisions; and establishing an accelerated process for certain acute service emergencies.

In its rule making notice, the STB said these changes will enable it “to order temporary relief in emergency situations more quickly and effectively, to more rapidly ensure that localized problems do not spread to other parts of the network, and to give parties involved in emergency situations (both rail carriers and shippers) more certainty on the resolution of those issues.”

The STB is taking public comment on the proposed rule changes through May 23. Replies to those comments will be due by June 6.

STB Won’t Extend Reciprocal Switching Proceeding

January 29, 2022

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has denied a request by the Association of American Railroads to delay the proceedings in a reciprocal switching inquiry.

The STB said on Friday it would continue its planned schedule for the review, including public hearings that begin on March 15.

AAR had sought to extend the schedule for the proceeding by 75 days.

In its decision, the STB said it found “that the amount of notice and time for preparation provided was sufficient and that AAR’s alternative request for extension of the comment deadline would hinder the ability of the Board and the hearing participants to review parties’ submissions before the hearing.”

STB Denies Bid to Delay Arbitration Rulemaking

December 30, 2021

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board said this week it will continue a proceeding focused on using voluntary arbitration to resolve small rate cases.

The decision was made in denying a request from various shipper trade groups to delay the rule-making process in the case.

The shipper groups sought to delay the rule-making process until Class 1 railroads “state whether they would participate in the proposed program if arbitrators are permitted to consider revenue adequacy, as has been proposed by the Board.”

The STB said what the shippers are seeking is premature because it seeks to require rail carriers to pledge to participate in the proposed arbitration program based solely on the single issue of revenue adequacy before the record has been fully developed.

The rulemaking process regarding voluntary arbitration was launched in 2020 upon the request of five Class 1 railroads: Canadian National, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific.

The shippers groups seeking to delay the rule-making process included the American Chemistry Council, Corn Refiners Association, National Industrial Transportation League, The Chlorine Institute, and The Fertilizer Institute.

The STB said it will continue seeking public comment on the proposed rule through Jan. 14, 2022. It expects railroads to state their position on the revenue adequacy issue in their comments to the Board.

Reply comments will be accepted through April 15, 2022, while ex parte communications regarding the proposed rule will be are allowed until March 28, 2022.

STB Modifies Emergency Trackage Rights Rule

December 4, 2021

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board this week approved a final rule regarding a new class exemption for emergency temporary trackage rights.

The new rule ends a 30-day notice period in certain circumstances which STB officials said will allow for faster authorization of trackage rights in response to an unforeseen event that closes a rail route.

The rule was sought by the Association of American Railroads, which wanted to end the 30-day waiver in favor of a five-day process.

STB Moves Ahead on Private Car Proceeding

November 26, 2021

Federal regulators moving ahead with a rule making case that will consider a proposal by private rail car owners to update the demurrage and accessorial rules governing use by railroads of these cars.

The owners sought the rule making process in July. After a public comment period, the U.S. Surface Transportation board has decided to open such a proceeding because, “Petitioners’ proposal and the responses to date raise important issues of interest to the Board.”

The car owners want the STB to adopt regulations that would allow car owners to assess a “private rail car delay charge” when a private freight car does not move for more than 72 consecutive hours at any point between the time it is released for transportation and the time it is “constructively placed or actually placed” at the private rail car provider’s facility or designated location.

Since the car owners through their trade associations proposed the rule in July, the STB has received public comments from various shippers and railroads.

The latter oppose the rule with the Association of American Railroads arguing that the STB lacks legal authority under federal law to adopt the proposed rules.

AAR along with some of its members contend the proposed rule are unnecessary because carriers have sufficient incentives to move cars efficiently. Delayed cars hinder operations and reduce revenue.

The railroads have likewise argued that the proposed rules will result in inefficient operations as railroads are motivated to move private cars in order to avoid charges.

For their part, the rail car owners and their trade associations argue that the proposed rules will provide incentives for Class I railroads to make “efficient use of private rail cars without unduly infringing upon the railroads’ freight operations over their respective systems, recognizing that some level of service variability is inherent in any railroad’s operations.”

In seeking the rule changes, the rail car owners said approximately 73 percent of the rail cars in service – about 1.2 million cars – are no longer owned by railroads.

These cars are used by railroads at little or no cost to them, the car owners contend.

STB Proposes 2 Rules to Resolve Small Rate Disputes

November 18, 2021

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board had advanced new rules for resolving disputes over small rates.

The proposed rules would establish what the Board termed a rate reasonableness processes and establish a voluntary arbitration program for small rate disputes.

In a news release, the STB said the proposed rules continue the efforts of the Board’s Rate Reform Task Force to determine how best to provide a rate review process for small cases.

Public comment on the rules are due by Jan. 14, 2022, and reply comments by March 15, 2022.

Groups Private Car Rules Revised

July 29, 2021

Four groups that represent private freight car owners want the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to launch a rule making process to work toward updating the demurrage and accessorial rules governing the railroads’ use and handling of their equipment.

The petition to the STB asks regulators “to promulgate regulations governing the use by the nation’s Class I railroads of freight rail cars supplied to them by rail car owners, shippers, and other non-railroad entities. [A]n update to the rules governing the railroads’ use of private rail cars is long overdue because the railroad industry has evolved to the point that approximately 73 percent of the rail cars in service today nationwide – approximately 1.2 million rail cars—are no longer owned by railroads, but are . . . purchased, or leased, and maintained, by non-railroad entities at little or no cost to the railroads that use them.”

The groups involved are the North America Freight Car Association, the National Grain and Feed Association, the Chorine Institute and the National Oilseed Processors Association.

They say that current STB rules failed to adequately protect the enormous investment private rail car owners have made in their property because the rules fail to provide sufficient incentives for the Class I railroads to use private rail cars efficiently.

The petition said Class 1 railroads are using private cars in irregular service and holding on to them for too long.

STB Adopts Demurrage Rule

April 8, 2021

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board said this week it has adopted a final rail to establish certain minimum information requirements for demurrage bills from Class I railroads.

The  rule regulates billing cycle, shipment, car replacement and credit and debit information.

The minimum-information requirement represents what regulators determined will have the greatest effect on the ability of rail users to review and verify the accuracy of demurrage charges and help to resolve disputes between railroads and their customers.

In a news release the STB said  the rule establishes a machine-readable data requirement to ensure that rail users have the option to access machine-readable data containing the minimum information.

In its decision, the STB reiterated its expectation that all carriers take reasonable action to ensure the accuracy of their invoicing processes and that their demurrage charges are warranted.

The rule will become effective on Oct. 6.

STB to Hold Conference on Policy Proposal

December 5, 2020

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board plans to conduct a virtual conference on Dec. 18 to address a new approach for considering class exemption and revocation issues.

In a news release, the STB said its proposed approach would “evaluate market conditions using a variety of metrics related to or indicative of rail transportation competition.”

That would include developing a snapshot of the commodities handled by rail, identifying changes in market conditions, and considering certain potential influences from alternative transportation modes that could affect rail shipping markets.

The proposal was developed by the agency’s Office of Economics following a public comment on since dropped rule proposal that would have affected such commodities as stone, cement, coke, and iron and steel products.

The STB has been collecting public comment on its latest proposal the approach since September.

STB noted that its approach has limitations and would not “necessarily provide a final conclusive answer on whether the commodity exemptions at issue should be revoked, or whether additional commodity exemptions should be adopted.”

Nor is the agency seeking “to answer the ultimate qualitative question of whether a commodity’s regulation is necessary to carry out rail transportation policy.