RAILROAD & RAIL PRICING / Federal freight rate governance of Class I railroads’ pricing for the Quarter: The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has approved the Association of American Railroads’ (AAR’s) proposed rebasing calculations and the rebased first quarter 2013 rail cost adjustment factor (RCAF) and cost index filed by the AAR.

The RCAF mandate pursuant to which this “Rail cost adjustment factor” is issued is one reason why the reforms of the Staggers Act of 1980 constitute “de-regulation” only by comparison to the more strict Interstate Commerce Commission regulation of freight rates that prevailed before that statute. 

Pursuant to federal statute (49 U.S.C. § 10708) the U.S. STB is required to publish the “Rail cost adjustment factor” no less frequently than each quarter. This “factor” is a fraction whose numerator is “the latest published Index of Railroad Costs … and the denominator of which is the same index for the fourth quarter of every fifth year ….” 

Who is affected?  Those who operate Class I railroad carriers and those who ship on Class I railroad carriers.

(December 26, 2012, Approval of Rail Cost Adjustment Factor ):  Continue reading

RAILROAD / Positive Train Control – Federal Railroad Administration proposes to expand exceptions to application of FRA’s original 2010 rule that implements mandates of the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 requiring certain passenger and freight railroads to install positive train control systems.

Who is affected? Railroad carriers and providers of rail rolling stock (locomotives and rail cars).

December 11, 2012, Notice of Proposed Rule Making ):

This is part of the implementation of Positive Train Control (“PTC”) into U.S. railroads pursuant to the Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008. This notice of proposed rule making is a Federal Railroad Administration response to a petition for rule making dated April 22, 2011 concerning a final rule and clarifying amendments on this promulgated in 2010. That petition was brought by the Association of American Railroads (which is comprised of the Class I railroads) in what amounts to a course correction in PTC implementation. Broadly speaking, this would revise the de minimis exception to PTC rules in various respects, discontinue those signal systems made unneeded by the installation of PTC systems, and otherwise refine the 2010-promulgated rules. Continue reading