The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has adopted a final rule establishing a new “emergency temporary trackage rights class exemption” that could be invoked during natural disasters, accidents or derailments; the rule is effective Dec. 30, 2021.
Short Lines & Regionals
Years ago, as general counsel to the Illinois Racing Commission, Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairperson Martin J. Oberman chased the “gow”—jockey-speak for opium used illegally to improve race horse performance. These days, the 76-year-old Oberman is himself infused with a legal form of gow: an unabated resolve to use his regulatory cudgel to splinter railroad market power.
For the week ending Nov. 20, 2021, U.S. Class I railroads hauled 237,244 carloads, up 1.6% from the same point last year, but the 271,065 intermodal containers and trailers they moved fell 10% from 2020, the Association of American Railroads reported on Nov. 24.
The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers (SMART-TD) have filed suit against Amtrak over implementation of its COVID-19 vaccine policy.
The Surface Transportation Board will consider a proposal by private railcar owners to adopt regulations updating the demurrage and accessorial rules governing the railroads’ use and handling of their equipment.
OmniTRAX, an affiliate of The Broe Group, has tapped Stacey Posey to serve as President of Winchester & Western (W&W).
In model railroading, there’s an annoying practice known as “rivet counting.” It involves people who have nothing better to do than finding fault with what someone else has created closely examining a painstakingly reproduced miniature (pick your scale—G, O, S, HO, N, Z—doesn’t matter) of a particular locomotive or car and finding some minuscule flaw, because the finished model doesn’t reproduce the actual equipment with 200% accuracy.
The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) will distribute nearly $1 billion to 90 rail, transit, road and port projects through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grants program; California High-Speed Rail Authority and Genesee & Wyoming are among the grantees.
On Nov. 15, President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), described by rail advocacy organization GoRail as “a momentous, bipartisan bill for fixing and improving U.S. roads, bridges, waterways, airports and other infrastructure systems, and reauthorizing surface transportation programs for the next five years.”
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has renewed the charter of the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) for a two-year period. The renewed charter, or “recharter,” as FRA terms it, increases the number of represented organizations by three, from 23 to 26, and the number of individual voting members by 17, from 34 to 51.