Rail regulators issue reporting requirements, seeking to improve rail backlogs


The Surface Transport Board said late Friday that it will require certain railroads to submit “service recovery plans” and additional data and regular progress reports on rail service, operations, and employment after several railroad customers and others complained about delays and other problems. There were several accounts of “severe rail service issues” reported by several shippers, government officials, rail employees and experts during hearings in late April, the STB said. “The Board has also continued to review and monitor weekly rail service performance data, which indicate trends in deteriorating service,” it said. The decision is focusing on major railroad’s “adequacy of recovery efforts,” including those of CSX Corp. CSX, +0.38%, Norfolk Southern Corp. NSC, -0.44% and Union Pacific Railroad Corp. UNP, -0.82%. “Our freight rail service hearing highlighted the grave concerns of shippers and others regarding freight rail service,” STB Chairman Martin J. Oberman said in a statement. “While the railroads have faced certain challenges over the last few years, the evidence produced at last week’s hearing is overwhelming that the railroads’ longstanding practice of reducing operating ratios by cutting employment levels, mothballing locomotives, and eliminating other essential resources are the central reasons why farmers have been hours away from depopulating herds, manufacturing facilities have reduced operating hours, and shippers cannot get their products to market on time or receive essential raw materials for their companies.” The “failures” are harming the economy and contributing to inflation, Oberman said. All carriers are required to submit reports on rail service, performance, and employment, and the major railroads are required to provide service recovery plans, progress reports, historical data, and also participate in bi-weekly conference calls with STB staff.

Source: Marketwatch

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