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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

STB sets new public hearing for competitive switching rules proceeding


The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has scheduled a public hearing for March 25-26 in Washington, D.C., regarding a petition for a rulemaking to revise competitive switching rules.

In October 2013, the board postponed a public hearing on the topic that had been scheduled for Oct. 22 due to the prolonged U.S. government shutdown. Now reset for March, the hearing will explore issues surrounding the National Industrial Transportation League's (NITL) petition to modify the STB's standards for mandatory competitive switching.

In 2011, NITL filed a "reciprocal switching" petition with the board that proposes certain captive shippers located in terminal areas be granted access to a competing railroad if there is a working interchange within about 30 miles. A competitive switching agreement would not be imposed if either railroad can establish that the arrangement is not feasible, unsafe or would "unduly hamper" either one's ability to serve its customers.

The STB has received numerous comments in response to NITL's proposal and scheduled the hearing to further explore the issues raised in the proceeding. For example, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) last year filed comments to voice opposition to revised competitive switching rules. Class Is could lose revenue equaling up to 80 percent of their annual capital budgets if the proposed rules are adopted, AAR officials claim.

The hearing will include scheduled appearances by representatives from a host of rail industry constituents, including the U.S. Department of Transportation, NITL, AAR, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp., Joint Coal Shippers, BNSF Railway Co., CSX Transportation, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern Railway, Union Pacific Railroad, The Chlorine Institute, American Chemistry Council, Dow Chemical Co. and United Transportation Union.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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