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The U.S. Surface Transportation Board's (STB) staff will hold informal meetings with stakeholders next month to explore and discuss ways to expedite rate reasonableness cases, the board announced yesterday.Under the STB Reauthorization Act, the board will initiate a proceeding to assess how procedures to expedite court litigation potentially could apply to rail rate cases, according to an STB press release. The board also intends to explore ways to advance stand-alone cost (SAC) rate cases in keeping with the board's shortened timeframe to issue a SAC decision under the act, STB officials said."These meetings will be a valuable opportunity for STB staff and interested parties to talk openly and candidly about our procedures for handling rate cases, and to brainstorm ideas for improving our processes and expediting case resolution," said STB Chairman Daniel Elliott. "Additionally, these meetings will further my efforts to make the board more available and accessible to our stakeholders."The board is inviting practitioners, consultants and stakeholders who have significant experience in rate reasonableness cases to independently share their views and ideas for expediting rate cases.The meetings will be held Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. in April. Interested parties are asked to contact the Rail Customer and Public Assistance office at 202-245-0238 to schedule individual meeting times.