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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

STB seeks public input on proposed mediation, arbitration rule changes

Yesterday, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) announced it’s seeking public comments on proposals aimed at encouraging more mediation and arbitration to resolve certain matters before the board.

Although existing procedures are in place for both mediation and arbitration, the proposed rules “represent an initiative to refine and expand those rules, in an effort to promote greater use of alternative dispute resolution procedures for a wide range of issues,” STB officials said in a prepared statement.

The proposed rules would require parties to mediate certain matters, and simplify and clarify current voluntary mediation rules. The board also proposes to create a new program through which shippers and carriers could voluntarily agree to arbitrate certain routine disputes.

Board members believe the changes will benefit all stakeholders with business before the STB by reducing time and expenses devoted to more formal litigation. The changes also would provide enhanced access to the board, particularly in matters involving relatively small disputes, STB officials said.

"The more often we can get parties to settle disputes before formal action, the more often we can save parties the cost, time and uncertainty of that formal action," said STB Chairman Daniel Elliott III.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/29/2012