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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

STB won't suspend rate-dispute rulemaking schedule


The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has denied a motion to hold in abeyance the procedural schedule for a proposed rulemaking to establish a voluntary arbitration program for small rate disputes.

The decision also extends the deadline for replies and adjusts the procedural schedule for consideration of the proposed final offer rate review (FORR) procedure so that those related rulemaking proceedings remain on the same schedule, STB officials said yesterday in a press release.

In response to a joint petition filed Nov. 15 by five Class Is, the STB proposed a new voluntary arbitration program for small rate disputes. The board also invited comment on modifications to the FORR procedure. 

But on Nov. 24, several shipper groups asked the board to hold the arbitration rulemaking in abeyance until the petitioning railroads state whether they would participate in the proposed program if arbitrators are permitted to consider revenue adequacy, as has been proposed by the board.

The petitioning railroads separately filed a motion seeking to extend the procedural schedule for the arbitration proceeding.

In its decision, the STB found premature the request that the railroads state now whether they would agree to participate in the proposed arbitration program. However, the board emphasized its expectation that the railroads will convey their position on the revenue adequacy issue in their comments. 

Comments on both the arbitration rulemaking and the FORR rulemaking are still due Jan. 14, 2022. The deadline for replies has been extended to April 15, 2022.  Ex parte communications regarding matters related to both rulemakings are allowed until March 28, 2022.