The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has adopted for second-quarter 2023 the rail cost adjustment factor (RCAF), defined as “an index formulated to represent changes in railroad costs incurred by the nation’s largest railroads over a specified period of time.”
STB is required by law to publish the RCAF on a minimum quarterly basis. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) each quarter computes three types of RCAF figures and submits them for STB approval:
- Unadjusted RCAF: “an index reflecting cost changes experienced by the railroad industry, without reference to changes in rail productivity.”
- Adjusted RCAF: “an index that reflects national average productivity changes as originally developed and applied by the ICC [Interstate Commerce Commission], the calculation of which is currently based on a five-year moving average.”
- RCAF-5: “an index that also reflects national average productivity changes; however, those productivity changes are calculated as if a five-year moving average had been applied consistently from the productivity adjustment’s inception in 1989.”
The STB on March 20 reported that it had reviewed AAR’s submission (download decision below) and adopted these figures for second-quarter 2023: unadjusted RCAF, 1.004 (down 0.6% from first-quarter 2023’s 1.010); adjusted RCAF, 0.403 (down 1.2% from first-quarter 2023’s 0.408); and RCAF-5, 0.385 (down 1.3% from first-quarter 2023’s 0.390).
Table A shows the index of railroad input prices, RCAF (Unadjusted), RCAF (Adjusted), and RCAF-5 for second-quarter 2023:
Table B shows the fourth-quarter 2022 index and the RCAF calculated on both an actual and a forecasted basis. The difference between the actual calculation and the forecasted calculation is the forecast error adjustment: