STB Issues Final Rule on URCS Data Reporting

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
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The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has adopted a final rule “to codify a longstanding voluntary practice” in which Class I railroads, through the Association of American Railroads (AAR), have annually reported tare weight and loss and damage data for use in the STB’s Uniform Railroad Costing System (URCS).

“Under the final rule, Class I carriers may choose to provide tare weight and loss and damage data through AAR or to file the data with the Board individually,” STB wrote in its July 28 decision (scroll down to download). The rule, effective Aug. 13, 2022, follows the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that STB issued April 29.

STB is authorized, under 49 U.S.C. § 11161, to maintain cost accounting rules for rail carriers; in 1989, STB predecessor Interstate Commerce Commission adopted URCS as its general purpose costing system. STB said in its decision that it “uses URCS for a variety of regulatory functions. URCS is used in rate reasonableness proceedings as part of the initial market dominance determination, and at later stages is used in parts of the Board’s determination as to whether the challenged rate is reasonable and, when warranted, the maximum rate prescription. URCS is also used, among other things, to develop variable costs for making cost determinations in abandonment proceedings, provide the railroad industry and shippers with a standardized costing model, cost the Board’s Carload Waybill Sample to develop industry cost information, and provide interested parties with basic cost information regarding railroad industry operations.

“As a longstanding practice, AAR has collected tare weight and loss and damage data for use in URCS from Class I carriers and voluntarily provided the data annually to the Board. While the Board appreciates AAR’s longstanding voluntary practice, to ensure the continued availability of the data, which are essential components of URCS, the Board will formalize the reporting requirement and require Class I carriers to provide tare weight and loss and damage data on an annual basis. …”

STB said it adopted the regulations as proposed in the NPRM with one modification and one clarification proposed by AAR, which it said were “reasonable and unopposed”:

• STB will modify the submission deadline for loss and damage data, from 60 days after the end of the calendar year to no later than May 31 of each year, “to allow AAR sufficient time to collect the inputs, and verify and calculate the data.” The Board will likewise modify the deadline for submission of tare weight data, so that both data sets are due simultaneously.

• STB said it clarified that “AAR’s proposed methodology to ensure that the loss and damage data provided for CN and CP comprise only their U.S. operations (by including movements that originate in the U.S. and excluding movements that originate in Canada) is reasonable. With each annual submission of loss and damage data, AAR (or CN and CP, if the data is submitted by the carriers) will be required to explain the methodology by which Canadian operations are excluded so that the Board will be aware of any changes in that methodology.”

Class I railroads, either individually or through AAR, must file tare weight and loss and damage data for the year 2021 by September 12, 2022.

More information about URCS data is located on the STB’s website. STB’s final rule can be downloaded below:

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