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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

STB delays decision on NITL reciprocal switching petition, schedules hearing on Grenada Railway proposal


On Friday, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) issued a decision stating it would defer action on a National Industrial Transportation League (NITL) petition requesting a new rulemaking governing reciprocal switching between Class Is. A decision will be delayed until board members finish reviewing a lengthy record developed in a separate and broader rail competition proceeding, the STB said.

“The League is extremely disappointed in the board’s decision, which indefinitely delays action on the critical problems faced by captive shippers and proposed solutions presented in our petition,” said NITL President Bruce Carlton in a prepared statement. “While we respect the board’s deliberative process, we believe that an expedited decision on the League's petition is both necessary and warranted.”

In July, NITL filed a petition with the STB proposing that the board eliminate existing competitive access rules and precedents as they apply to reciprocal switching and require a Class I to enter into a competitive switching arrangement whenever a shipper or group of shippers demonstrate that certain “objective operating conditions” exist. A competitive switching agreement would not be imposed if either rail carrier can establish that the arrangement is not feasible or unsafe, or that it would “unduly hamper the ability of either carrier to serve its shippers,” according to the petition.

“We continue to believe that the board should act to inject more competition in the rail marketplace, and we urge the board to initiate a proceeding on competitive switching as soon as possible so that all interested parties may offer their views,” said Carlton.

The STB also announced on Friday that it will hold a public hearing Nov. 16 at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Winona, Miss., to review Grenada Railway L.L.C.'s proposal to abandon the southern segment of its line near Grenada, Miss. On Oct. 25, the board announced plans to schedule a hearing on the matter in Mississippi.

On Sept. 20, Grenada Railway filed a petition seeking STB permission to abandon 81.3 miles of track between Grenada and Canton, Miss. A week later, the Mississippi Transportation Commission asked the board to hold a public hearing in Grenada to enable interested parties to comment on the abandonment’s merits.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 11/7/2011