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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Class Is again ask STB to stay rate-dispute arbitration program


CSX, Norfolk Southern Railway, Union Pacific Railroad and the U.S. operations of CN have renewed their request that the Surface Transportation Board stay its requirement that the Class Is commit to a new arbitration program for small rate disputes.

In a joint petition filed Feb. 3 with the STB, the railroads refiled their petition for a stay after the board on Jan. 24 rejected their request. The issue stems from the STB's Dec. 19, 2022, decision that established an arbitration program when there are small rate disputes between railroads and shippers.

Specifically, the Class Is are concerned about a "pre-review opt-in requirement" that railroads commit to the arbitration program before knowing what its final content will be.

The STB's Dec. 19 ruling calling for the program's creation was structured in a way that contradicts earlier statements that railroads would not be required to participate in the program before knowing its final content, the Class Is' petition stated.

The STB's rejection of the Class Is’ request for a stay did not prohibit the railroads from filing a new request, which they’ve now done. Under their latest petition, the railroads state that the board’s decision to issue an opt-in deadline in its final rule is unlawful.

"The board failed to give notice of its intent to impose this draconian measure; departed from contrary agency precedent without explanation; failed to provide legally sufficient justification for its action; and contradicted its own reasoning in the final rule that carriers needed to know the contents of the arbitration program before making a five-year commitment to it," the petition states. "This is one of the multiple issues presented in the petitions for reconsideration filed on Jan. 24, 2023, and Joint Carriers hope that the board will reconsider it."

Click here to read the railroads' petition in its entirety.

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