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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

STB discontinues chairman's annual 'outlook' letter


The Surface Transportation Board (STB) is ending its practice of annually asking Class Is to comment on their end-of-year traffic and operations outlook.

The practice, which began in 2004, was motivated by severe capacity constraints and periodic service disruptions in the rail industry during the previous decade. 

The annual letter from the STB chairman and the Class Is' subsequent responses were part of an effort to ensure the industry was prepared to handle the seasonal spike in agricultural, intermodal and energy-related traffic that occurred very year. 

Shipping patterns in more recent years have changed, however. As a result, there is no longer a "highly conspicuous peak season," STB officials said in a press release. 

Also, the newer requirement that Class Is submit weekly service reports to the STB makes the annual "Fall Peak" letter unnecessary, they said.

The railroads' responses to the annual letters have been appreciated, said STB Chairman Daniel Elliott.

"Over the years, the responses have been very helpful to the agency in assessing the preparedness and resilience of the network," Elliott said. "However, the industry has changed significantly over the past 12 years."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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