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The Surface Transportation Board (STB) announced last week it will permit informal discussions on its proposed rule in Final Offer Rate Review (FORR), Docket No. EP 755, and comments received in that docket regarding arbitration and other rate review options for smaller cases.
The board is waiving the general prohibition on ex parte communications in the docket and will permit informal communications with board members and staff between June 1 and July 15, STB officials said in a press release.
In September 2019, the board issued a notice of proposed rulemaking and sought public comment on its proposed FORR procedure for challenging the reasonableness of railroad rates in smaller cases. Under the proposal, the board would decide a case by selecting either the complainant's or the defendant's final offer, subject to an expedited procedural schedule that adheres to firm deadlines.
The comment period concluded on Jan. 10. After reviewing the record, the board determined it would benefit from additional stakeholder input on the proposal and how to best continue its efforts to establish a new rate review methodology generally.
In addition, the comments prompted the board to explore whether its existing arbitration program could be changed to provide a practical alternative dispute resolution mechanism to address smaller rate disputes.
Interested parties should contact the board's Office of Public Assistance, Governmental Affairs and Compliance to schedule a meeting via telephone or online conference, STB officials said.