Railroads, Like the Economy, Need Greater Certainty

Editor’s Note: RealClear Markets published this editorial by AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies on Aug. 1. With mixed economic signals coming from Washington D.C., Jefferies argues that federal lawmakers must do their part to provide certainty.

STB Rate Reform Task Force: A Shippers’ View

On June 20, Dr. William Huneke, the former Director of the Office of Economics at the Surface Transportation Board (STB), offered his observations in Railway Age regarding the recently released Rate Reform Task Force Report. This article offers a view from the shippers’ perspective.

Are Paper Barriers Ripe for STB Review?

WATCHING WASHINGTON, JULY 2019: If paper smothers rock, scissors cut paper and rock smashes scissors, short line railroads, controlling neither the paper nor rock, face a grim outcome in a quest to “cut up” so-called paper barriers erected by Class I railroads and sanctioned by the Surface Transportation Board (STB).

Observations on STB’s Rate Reform Task Force Report

Surface Transportation Board (STB) staff recently released a rate reform report with a series of recommendations. Readers should remember that before any of those recommendations become regulations, the Board must conduct rulemakings. This process could extend beyond 2020 and into the next Administration.

Shipper Frustration Turns Contemptuous

WATCHING WASHINGTON, MAY 2019 – Oh, the contempt that drippeth from a judicial petition of the Western Coal Traffic League (WCTL), whose members ship and receive by rail some 175 million tons of coal annually. It accuses the Surface Transportation Board (STB) of impersonating a regulatory agency by not acting on long-pending rulemakings, and asks a federal court to order the STB to do as its statute instructs—timely decide cases brought before it.

STB releases Rate Reform Task Force report

The Surface Transportation Board Rate Reform Task Force has completed a staff report providing its recommendations for “possible changes to the rate review methodologies and processes used by the Board,” STB said.

Are STB’s Newbies Change Agents?

WATCHING WASHINGTON, APRIL 2019 – Stanley found Livingstone faster than vacancies on the five-member Surface Transportation Board (STB) have been filled, with two remaining more than three years after Congress increased from three the number of Senate-confirmed seats.

Sen. Fritz Hollings’ role in rail merger policy

Somewhat buried in history is that today’s railroad map is a product of behind-the-scenes actions by former Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ernest Frederick (Fritz) Hollings (D-S.C.), who died April 6 at age 97. He was Commerce Committee Chairman 1987-1995 and 2001-2003, during years Democrats controlled the Senate. He left office in 2005.

Miller withdraws from STB contention

Former Surface Transportation Board (STB) member Deb Miller, a Kansas Democrat, has withdrawn her name from contention for renomination by President Trump to a second term.

UPDATE: Short line tax credit; STB’s new members

Restoration of the 50% investment tax credit for short line railroads—commonly known as 45-G for its designated section in the Internal Revenue Code—again appears a reality in Congress after that “wall thing” debate interfered with the tax credit’s passage just prior to final adjournment of the 115th Congress.