STB to review petition to amend rail performance reporting rules

(Source: Progressive Railroading 04/08/2019)

The Surface Transportation Board (STB) has opened a rule-making proceeding in response to a petition from the American Chemistry Council to amend the board’s railroad performance data reporting rules.

In a filing last week, the STB stated that by opening the proceeding, it is not ruling on the petition’s merits but is seeking more information about several issues raised in it as well as in a reply from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

In December 2018, the ACC filed the petition asking that the STB amend its railroad performance rules that require all Class Is and the Chicago Transportation Coordination Office, through its Class I members, to report certain service performance metrics on a weekly, semiannual and occasional basis.

The ACC asked the board to modify its rules to include chemical and plastics traffic as a distinct reporting category, as well as make other reporting changes. The ACC argued that shippers benefit from the board’s existing rules and ACC members use the data to identify, monitor and respond to service issues. Access to performance data also helps ACC members to hold “collaborative discussions with carriers and allows shippers to suggest service adjustments,” according to the STB filing.

On Jan. 28, the AAR filed a reply to the ACC’s petition, arguing that additional commodity-specific reporting should not be adopted. Among other things, the AAR argued that amending the STB’s performance reporting rules would impose ongoing costs on railroads, which would have to make programing changes to their systems in order to comply.

The STB is asking the ACC and AAR to provide additional information on the issue by May 6. Other interested stakeholders may file comments addressing the information requests by May 6, the STB filing stated. Replies will be due by May 20.