If you’re passionate about on-time performance of Amtrak passenger trains traversing freight railroad tracks, you’d best pray for the health of RBG—the increasingly frail 85-year-old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Surface Transportation Board
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.
Watching Washington, January 2019: Prominently on Harry Truman’s Oval Office desk was a sign, “The buck stops here.” Newly confirmed members of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) may wish to reflect on that acknowledgment of accountability as they wade through a troubling backlog of unfinished rulemakings—some disregarded for years.
Five nominations for rail transportation federal leadership posts were announced Jan. 16 by President Trump. All are nominees from the previous session of Congress, and were cleared by respective Senate oversight committees for confirmation on the Senate floor—but none advanced for a floor vote prior to the Senate adjourning.
The effects of the partial shutdown of the federal government on the rail community appear not to be significant, at least for now.
In the people’s company town of Washington, D.C., the most popular refrain during lame duck sessions of Congress—the fewer than 60 days between congressional elections and adjournment—is the catchphrase from Mariah Carey’s iconic tune, “All I Want for Christmas Is You.”
Watching Washington, December 2018 Railway Age: New leadership arrives at railroad-focused congressional committees in January, and unless Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairman Ann Begeman ingests breakfast Wheaties and gains courage to produce decisions, Congress may prescribe more than a potent laxative.
Union Pacific’s plan to implement Precision Scheduled Railroading caught the attention of the Surface Transportation Board, which on Sept. 20 sent a letter signed by Chairman Ann Begeman and Vice Chairman Deb Miller to UP chief executive Lance Fritz requesting that the railroad’s senior management engage in weekly calls with the Board’s Rail Customer and Public Assistance office during the implementation process. The purpose of the calls is “to keep the agency fully informed of UP’s operating changes and impacts to customers and others.”
Amtrak is on notice by the Surface Transportation Board (STB) that should it discriminate against other railroads sharing access to Amtrak’s wholly owned Chicago Union Station (CUS), it could face regulatory discipline.
Dan Elliott, who served as Chairman of the Surface Transportation Board from 2009 to 2017 and is now with Washington D.C. law firm Conner & Winters, is hosting the inaugural Railroads + Shippers = Solutions conference on Oct. 3 in Washington, D.C.