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11/22/2010



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

STB: Rail regulation review hearing reset for February


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On Friday, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) announced it is extending the date for a public hearing on certain rail regulation exemptions from Dec. 9 to Feb. 24, 2011. The board plans to review existing rail regulation exemptions for certain commodities, such as non-ferrous metals and frozen food products, as well as box-car and intermodal (trailer-on-flatcar/container-on-flatcar) freight.

The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) had filed a request to extend the STB’s procedural schedule by 120 days to obtain more time to gather and organize members’ testimony. The exemptions “are complex and impact ASLRRA members and their customers in disparate ways,” association officials said in their filing.

However, the National Industrial Transportation League, American Forest & Paper Association and Paper & Forest Industry Transportation Committee jointly filed a reply opposing ASLRRA’s request, stating the extension would be unnecessarily long given the scope of testimony the board has requested. The parties wouldn’t oppose a 30-day extension, they stated in their reply.

Due to the upcoming holidays in November and December, a 60-day, rather than 30-day, extension is appropriate, STB members ruled. So, in their decision dated Nov. 19, they rescheduled the hearing for Feb. 24 in Washington, D.C.

The hearing is necessary because, in recent years, the board has received informal inquiries questioning the relevance and/or necessity of some of the existing commodity exemptions. The hearing will explore the “continuing utility of and the issues surrounding the categorical exemptions,” according to the STB.


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