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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

STB extends procedural time schedule for proposed costing system changes


The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has extended the comment and reply due dates associated with proposed changes to the Uniform Railroad Costing System (URCS), its general purpose cost-determination system.

The board received extension requests from the Association of American Railroads, American Chemistry Council, National Industrial Transportation League and The Fertilizer Institute. Comments now are due May 6 instead of March 21 and replies are due July 22 instead of April 22.

The four parties sought the extension because of the proposed rulemaking's technical nature. They plan to engage expert consultants to evaluate the changes and there are only a limited number of such consultants, the partied claim in a STB filing, adding that the extension will enable them to develop a more complete record for consideration by the board.

The STB plans to adjust the manner in which the URCS calculates certain system-average unit costs to better reflect railroad operations. The proposed change would automatically reflect economies of scale relative to shipment-size increases, eliminating the need for a separate mathematical adjustment referred to as the "make-whole adjustment," according to the board.

The STB also is proposing to make a number of related changes to the URCS that would prompt more accurate movement costs, and to alter two of its reporting requirements to support the proposals.

The URCS enables the STB to calculate a railroad's variable costs to provide service, determine the jurisdictional threshold in rate disputes between railroads and their customers and decide whether challenged rates are reasonable. The system also is used in proceedings involving proposed rail line abandonments.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/13/2013