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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

STB modifies rate review rules


The Surface Transportation Board (STB) yesterday issued a final rule aimed at expediting the rate review process.

Expediting Rate Cases Docket No. EP 733 was issued in response to a section in the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015, which required the STB to assess procedures for expediting court litigation that might be applied to agency rate cases.

The final rule addresses comments and suggestions the board received on the proposed rulemaking earlier this year, STB officials said in a press release.

Among other things, the final rule:
• establishes a 70-day pre-complaint period in stand-alone cost cases, beginning when the complainant files a pre-filing notice to notify the defendant of the rate and movement it intends to challenge and during which mandatory mediation would now occur;
• requires, in stand-alone cost cases, service of the complainant's and the defendant's initial discovery requests simultaneously with the complaint and the answer, respectively;
• institutes in all rate case a meet-and-confer requirement prior to the filing of a motion to compel;
• standardizes certain practices with respect to evidentiary submissions; and
• establishes a new practice of appointing an STB staff person to serve as a liaison for the case and assist the parties with primarily procedural matters.