STB Opts for Transparency Over Fiat

WATCHING WASHINGTON, RAILWAY AGE JUNE 2022 ISSUE: At a late April Surface Transportation Board (STB) hearing, up bobbed aggrieved shipper witnesses, one following another as hammers in a pianoforte, much as Charles Dickens (Bleak House) amusingly described the successive appearances in chancery of 18 attorneys.

CN to STB: New Amtrak OA Sought—on Our Terms

We recently reported on Amtrak’s request to the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to set terms and conditions for a new operating agreement (OA) between Amtrak and CN, as one of the host railroads whose lines Amtrak uses for its trains.

Amtrak to STB: We Want New Host Railroad Rules

The authority vested in the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to decide issues concerning passenger trains has been expanding lately. On May 27, Amtrak asked the Board to intervene in a dispute with Canadian National (CN) over a number of issues, including on-time performance (OTP), penalties for low performance, and incentives to improve performance.

CSX-Pan Am Merger Complete

CSX on June 1 reported completing its Pan Am Railways, Inc., acquisition, six weeks after the Class I railroad received regulatory approval from the Surface Transportation Board (STB). Transaction terms were not disclosed.

Caution: Separation of Powers Has Greatly Eroded

Frank N. Wilner’s commentary “Threats Lurk to STB Independence” (May 22, 2022) raises interesting issues reaching back to the 1700s. The U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1789, is patterned on the Massachusetts Constitution

‘Big 4’ Submit Service Recovery Plans to STB

BNSF, CSX, Norfolk Southern (NS) and Union Pacific (UP) have answered the Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) call to submit service recovery plans—identifying the steps they will take to clear congestion and improve service plus the metrics they will use to evaluate progress over the next six months.

Gulf Coast: Class I’s, Port Seek Mediation, Again

CSX, Norfolk Southern (NS), and the Alabama State Port Authority and its Terminal Railway Alabama State Docks division (collectively, the Port) are again requesting Surface Transportation Board (STB)-sponsored mediation as they “continue to believe that an amicable resolution is possible—one that facilitates a prompt and orderly commencement of Gulf Coast passenger service while protecting the customers and shipping partners that rely on quality freight rail service.”

Threat Lurks to STB’s Independence

Once upon a time, conservative jurists were the best friends to federal regulatory agencies such as the Surface Transportation Board (STB). When those agencies pushed the boundaries of their decision-making independence, federal courts considered them experts in their field and accordingly deferred to their interpretations of the statutes they administered.

AAR to STB: No ‘Quick Fix’ to Service Problems

“The Class I railroads recognize that their recent service performance has not met many customers’ expectations,” the Association of American Railroads (AAR) wrote in a May 18 filing to the Surface Transportation Board (STB). But while the STB’s May 5 decision to release updated, more-comprehensive rules for reporting performance and employment metrics “reflects an understandable desire for quick action,” it was “not issued in a vacuum,” AAR pointed out.

Rail Insights 2022: Oberman, Itzkoff to Talk Freight Service

At Railway Age’s Eighth Annual Rail Insights Conference, to be held virtually June 23, Surface Transportation Board Chair Martin J. Oberman will cover freight railroad service, reciprocal switching, supply chain congestion, labor shortages and Amtrak access—among the controversial issues the Board has been addressing during recent hearings.

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