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2/7/2011



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

STB resets rail competition hearing for June


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The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has rescheduled a hearing on rail competition from May 3 to June 22 to provide interested parties more time to address competition-related issues. The hearing will explore the current state of competition in the rail industry and potential policy initiatives that would promote more rail-to-rail competition.

The STB also will provide more time to submit comments; initial comments now are due April 12 instead of Feb. 18 and the board’s reply comments now are due May 27 instead of March 18.

On Jan. 25, the Association of American Railroads filed a motion to extend the procedural schedule, arguing that the “breadth and complexity” of the hearing requires longer comment periods, and that the association’s resources would be dedicated to the STB’s Feb. 24 public hearing on the review of existing rail transportation regulation exemptions for certain commodities, and box-car and intermodal freight.

A day later, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) filed a motion to extend procedural schedule to obtain additional time to “compile and distill the views of its constituency,” according to a STB decision.
 
On Jan. 28, the Concerned Captive Coal Shippers group filed a letter stating the organization wanted to participate in the proceeding. And on Jan. 31, the American Chemistry Council, American Forest and Paper Association, Chlorine Institute, The Fertilizer Institute, National Grain and Feed Association, and National Industrial Transportation League filed a reply stating they object to ASLRRA’s motion for longer extensions — with initial comments due May 18 and reply comments due July 18 — but not to the AAR’s motion to have initial comments due April 19 and reply comments due June 3.
 
On Feb. 3, Consumers United for Rail Equity filed a letter opposing any extension of time for filing comments in the proceeding, but if the STB granted an extension, it should be limited to 30 days.

The STB decided to extend the comment periods and reschedule the hearing “in the interest of accommodating the parties’ requests for more time to address the important issues … while also avoiding unnecessary delay,” board members said in their decision.


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