“Second Interim Statement of Agency Policy and Interpretation on the Hours of Service Laws as Amended in 2008”
Interim Statement Of Agency Policy And Interpretation, Hours Of Service Laws As Amended In 2008; Request For Public Comment. September 24, 2013.
“The hours of service laws are Federal railroad safety laws that govern such matters as the maximum on-duty periods and minimum off-duty periods for railroad employees performing certain functions. In this document FRA supplements its existing interpretations of the hours of service laws by stating the agency’s interim position on some additional interpretive questions primarily involving two provisions of those laws that were added in 2008. First, this document further interprets the hours of service laws related to train employees, particularly the “consecutive-days” provision of those laws. Although the consecutive-days provision was also discussed in FRA’s June 2009 interim interpretations and February 2012 final interpretations, this document addresses the application of that provision to certain circumstances that were not specifically addressed in those interpretations. Second, this document further interprets the provision of the hours of service laws that makes signal employees operating motor vehicles subject to the hours of service laws and other hours of service requirements administered by FRA and exempt from the hours of service requirements promulgated by any other Federal authority. FRA invites public comment on these additional interim interpretations.”
“Highway-Rail Grade Crossing; Safe Clearance”
Final Rule. September 25, 2013.
This is a major development in an area of much safety concern over accidents and also a much-litigated matter in tort cases.
The background here is detailed and complex.
Among other implications: The PHMSA and FMCSA standard set forth here will likely be incorporated into negligence standard of care instructions to juries and to judges as finders of fact under a “negligence per se” theory.
“Information Required in Notices and Petitions Containing Interchange Commitments”
Final Rules. September 5, 2013.
The September 11 letters from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada should catch the attention of this sector for their specificity and, each in their own way, far-reaching potential industry impact (letter to Transport Canada here, and letter to PHMSA here). Of course the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, like its U.S. counterpart, the NTSB, has a persuasive voice – but it is up to Transport Canada and PHMSA, respectively, to actually issue new rules.
In addition, post- Lac-Mégantic proposals are pending in the U.S. Congress and the Canadian Parliament.
PHMSA’s Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – again, a document that is actually an extended call for comments without offering a template bearing the agency’s imprimatur (yet) – is available here.
It is hard to overstate the regulatory significance of the Lac-Mégantic catastrophe for carriage of crude oil by rail tank car operations.
In a unanimous opinion by for the three-judge panel by Judge Janice Rogers Brown, the court sent the litigation back to the district court with instructions to reconsider the class certification issue in light of the U.S. Supreme Court precedent of Comcast v. Behrens.
In re: Rail Freight Fuel Surcharge Antitrust Litigation, No. 12-7085 (U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, August 9, 2013). Copy of court-provided opinion available here.
ITEM #1: “Emergency Order Establishing Additional Requirements for Attendance and Securement of Certain Freight Trains and Vehicles on Mainline Track or Mainline Siding Outside of a Yard or Terminal.
August 7, 2013. Notice.
ITEM #2: “Lac-Mégantic Railroad Accident Discussion and DOT Safety Recommendations”
August 7, 2013. Notice Of Safety Advisory And Announcement Of Emergency Meeting Of The Railroad Safety Advisory Committee.
With respect to FRA and PHMSA joint meeting to discuss implications of Lac-Mégantic incident for U.S. railroad and hazardous materials policy.
Del. & Hudson Ry. Co. v. Knoedler Mfrs., Inc., C.A. No. 11-314 Erie (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, August 1, 2013). Court-issued opinion available here.
U.S. STB press release available here.
This is part of the ongoing regulatory battle between Class I railroads and “captive shippers” over rates in the wake of 1980 Staggers Act and related so-called “deregulation”.
“Agency Information Collection; Activity Under OMB Review; Confidential Close Call Reporting System.”
July 24, 2013. Notice.
A “close call” is defined for this notice as: Continue reading
“Rate Regulation Reforms.”
July 24, 2013. Final Rules.
“The Surface Transportation Board (Board) changes some of its existing regulations and procedures concerning rate complaint proceedings. The Board previously created two simplified procedures to reduce the time, complexity, and expense of rate cases. The Board now modifies its rules to remove the limitation on relief for one simplified approach, and to raise the relief available under the other simplified approach. The Board also makes technical changes to the full and simplified rate procedures; changes the interest rate that railroads must pay on reparations if they are found to have charged unreasonable rates; and announces future proceedings on options for addressing cross-over traffic and on proposals to address the concerns of small agricultural shippers. The purpose of these actions is to ensure that the Board’s simplified and expedited processes for resolving rate disputes are more accessible.”