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Media inquiries about FRCA can be directed to Ann Warner, Executive Director, at

Changes and New Faces in 115th Congress

The new 115th Congress got underway in January and was promptly faced with the challenges of a new Administration. The U.S. Senate began the process of confirming President Trump’s Cabinet, with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao among the first to be approved.  Once the Senate approves the President’s cabinet, it will move on […] Read More »

FRCA Issue Priorities for the 115th Congress

In January, the Freight Rail Customer Alliance (FRCA) Board of Directors approved its issue priorities for the 115th Congress. FRCA supports the following legislative issues and proceedings before the Surface Transportation Board (STB or Board).   Legislative Issues Surface Transportation Board (STB) Reauthorization Act of 2015, P.L. 114-110 Congressional Oversight & Implementation Continued STB implementation […] Read More »

President Trump Names Ann Begeman as Acting STB Chairman

On January 25, President Donald J. Trump designated Ann Begeman to serve as Acting Chairman of the Surface Transportation Board (STB or Board). Acting Chairman Begeman is currently serving a second, five-year term as a Member of the Board following her recent nomination by President Barack Obama on December 7, 2016, and her subsequent unanimous […] Read More »

The Impact and Potential Impact of Executive Orders and White House Memos on the STB and Other Independent Regulatory Agencies

Since taking office in January, President Trump has been actively using his executive powers to direct the course of government activity.  Of note are: On Inauguration Day, January 20, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus issued a Memorandum directing agencies to delay any new regulations by sixty days to permit further review. This Memorandum […] Read More »

Freight Rail Customer Alliance Responds to Association of American Railroads

In an ongoing series of paid content articles, guest editorials, and “third party submissions” in traditional and digital media outlets around the country, along with lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) warns that pending regulatory action could hurt the nation’s economy.The freight railroad lobby is targeting pending Surface Transportation Board […] Read More »

FRCA Testifies before U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on STB Reauthorization Act Implementation

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Technology (SCOM) Committee held a field hearing on implementation of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) Reauthorization Act of 2015 (Act) on August 11 in Sioux Falls, SD.Convened by Committee Chairman, Senator John Thune (R-SD), the hearing provided an opportunity for shippers, including Freight Rail Customer Alliance (FRCA) Board member Thomas […] Read More »


Please welcome the Western Fuels Association to the Freight Rail Customer Alliance! Western Fuels Association (WFA) is a not-for profit cooperative that supplies coal and transportation services to consumer-owned electric utilities throughout the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains and Southwest regions of the United States.  Serving a wide variety of public power entities ranging from rural electric […] Read More »

STB Releases Report on Rate Case Methodologies Conclusions Reached of Concern to FRCA

On September 22nd, the Surface Transportation Board (STB or Board) issued the long-awaited final report examining rate case methodologies, An Examination of the STB’s Approach to Freight Rail Rate Regulation and Options for Simplification (Report). The study was commissioned by STB Chairman Daniel R. Elliott to provide an independent assessment of the Board’s stand-alone cost […] Read More »

FRCA Participation in STB Proceedings

The Freight Rail Customer Alliance (FRCA) continues to advocate on behalf of its members, and particularly freight-rail dependent shippers, before the Surface Transportation Board (STB or Board). The STB is moving forward on numerous proceedings, due in large part to the implementation of the STB Reauthorization Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-110). The proceedings are providing […] Read More »

Election 2016 Outlook for Freight Rail Issues

The 2016 Elections could bring some significant changes to congressional committees with jurisdiction over freight rail shipper issues, no matter which party wins the White House.The next President will have the opportunity to nominate as many as three members of the Surface Transportation Board in 2017.  Current Board Member Ann Begeman’s one-year holdover period expires […] Read More »

House Approves Extension of Surface Transportation Programs and Positive Train Control Deadline

Contact: Jim Billimoria, Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 Washington, DC – The House of Representatives today approved bipartisan legislation that funds and extends the authorization for federal highway and transit programs through November 20th, and that prevents a shutdown of the U.S. rail transportation system by extending the deadline for implementation of Positive Train Control technology. […] Read More »

H.R. 3819, Highway & PTC Extension

By Danielle Parnass and Michael Smallberg | October 26, 2015 (Bloomberg Government) — Federal highway, transit and safety programs would be extended through Nov. 20 under H.R. 3819, which would also extend a deadline for railroads to implement a safety system known as positive train control (PTC). The highway programs were most recently extended in […] Read More »

Nation’s Rail Service Threatened as Deadline for Safety System Looms

By RON NIXON The New York Times September 28, 2015 WASHINGTON — Even after spending nearly $6 billion, the rail industry says it will not be able to meet its year-end government-imposed deadline to install a system known as positive train control, which is intended to prevent collisions or derailments caused by excessive speed. The […] Read More »

In reversal, there are grain trains galore

James MacPherson STERLING, N.D. — The grain elevator that towers over this small prairie town has been humming with workers loading crops onto rail cars destined for domestic and worldwide markets. It’s a welcome sight in Sterling, North Dakota, and across the upper Great Plains, where in the past two years grain elevators overflowed and […] Read More »

NORFOLK SOUTHERN: STB Findings Still Subject to Appeal

The findings entered by the Surface Transportation Board in the complaints filed by DuPont and Sunbelt Chlor Alkai Partnership against Norfolk Southern Corporation remain subject to technical corrections, requests for reconsideration, and appeal, the Company disclosed in its Form 10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for the quarter ended March 31, 2015. […] Read More »

Mixed news reported for coal shipments

By Daniel Tyson REGISTER-HERALD REPORTER Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2015 3:00 am An upward swing in Central Appalachian daily coal train loading last week pushed national loading volumes up the highest since May. The Surface Transportation Board’s data shows the four major U.S. railroads showed an average of 22.2 trains were loaded each day with […] Read More »

Quadrennial Energy Review Recommends Improved Understanding of Rail Congestion Impacts

A Federal government review of the nation’s energy infrastructure acknowledges the impact of railroad congestion on energy and agricultural commodities.  It recommends that the Surface Transportation Board (STB) improve its understanding of how rail congestion impacts the delivery of coal and ethanol. The first-ever Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), released April 21, 2015 by the U.S. […] Read More »

Railroads Respond to STB Requests to Provide Service Outlook

MINNEAPOLIS (DTN) — Will the nation’s railroads be ready for harvest? That’s the question transportation regulators, and grain shippers want answered ahead of harvest this fall following last year’s lengthy and widespread backlogs. On July 13, Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairman Dan Elliot sent a letter to all the Class 1 railroads asking them if […] Read More »

Abundant Grain Trains Available for North Dakota Harvest

The grain elevator that towers over this small prairie town has been humming with workers loading crops onto rail cars destined for domestic and worldwide markets. It’s a welcome sight in Sterling, North Dakota, and across the upper Great Plains, where in the past two years grain elevators overflowed and mountains of wheat, corn, soybeans […] Read More »

In reversal, abundant grain trains available for harvest

James Macpherson | The Associated Press STERLING, N.D. — The grain elevator that towers over this small prairie town has been humming with workers loading crops onto rail cars destined for domestic and worldwide markets. It’s a welcome sight in Sterling, North Dakota, and across the upper Great Plains, where in the past two years […] Read More »

Powder River Basin coal loading volumes remain steady, high: STB

Houston (Platts) Coal train loadings from the Powder River Basin have continued at volumes last seen during the winter, the most recent reports filed with the Surface Transportation Board showed. Data in EP 724 filings from the four major US railroads Thursday showed on average 74.1 trains/d were loaded each day with PRB coal during […] Read More »

PTC: It’s the deadline, stupid

Tuesday, August 11, 2015Written by  Frank N. Wilner, Contributing Editor Syntax-challenged George W. Bush was bang-on correct in saying, “You got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in.” So it is with Positive Train Control (PTC)—a $14 billion safety overlay utilizing computers, transponders and GPS to stop […] Read More »

Belt Railway Clears Track for More Efficiency

Better communication with railroads speeds traffic through key railroad junctionBy Bob Tita Updated Aug. 11, 2015 7:30 p.m. ET BEDFORD PARK, Ill.—The warren of winding tracks here is a central front in the rail industry’s push to become a more efficient mover of time-sensitive freight. Though little-known, Belt Railway Co. oversees a critical junction for the North American […] Read More »

Hundreds of trains to miss year-end PTC deadline, FRA says

By Jennifer Scholtes | 8/7/15 6:05 PM EDTPolitico More than 700 trains will need another three to five years to install the safety technology that could have prevented this spring’s deadly Amtrak crash, federal regulators say in a new report — the latest acknowledgment that the industry is nowhere close to meeting the Dec. 31 deadline […] Read More »

Freight Rail Traffic Tumbles on Falling Coal, Oil Demand Carloads carrying energy products declined at a double-digit rate in July, the Association of American Railroads says

ByBrian Baskin and Alison SiderAug. 7, 2015 5:29 p.m. ETWall Street JournalA Norfolk Southern train carrying intermodal containers. Growth in intermodal business has not offset the steep decline in energy-related demand for rail transport. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG NEWS Rail traffic fell in July from a year ago as an increase in container volumes couldn’t offset a steep […] Read More »

How Much Money Do Railroads Need?

Posted By Steven Johnson On August 3, 2015 @ 4:00 am  A coalition of freight rail customers says it’s time for the Surface Transportation Board to change the way it looks at the industry’s bottom line so they can get a fairer shake in dealing with railroads.Railroad customers want regulators to change the way they […] Read More »

U.S. energy traffic jam

BY MARKUS I. BRYANT, GENERAL MANAGERLast month, I reported on the Obama administration’s Department of Energy (DOE) releasing its first-ever Quadrennial (every fourth year) Energy Review (QER). As regular readers of this column know, I have been harshly critical of the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-proposed rules for limiting greenhouse gases emitted by burning […] Read More »

Daniel R. Elliott III Sworn In as Chairman of the Surface Transportation Board

June 26, 2015Surface Transportation Board Press Release Daniel R. Elliott III was sworn in June 26, 2015, as the Board’s Chairman, pledging to continue to promote transparency and to improve and streamline regulation of the Nation’s freight railroads.He was nominated to the Board by President Barack Obama on January 13, 2015 for a four year term […] Read More »

New Report Says U.S. Freight Rail Regulations Outdated, Recommends Modernization Efforts

Transportation Research Board/National Academy of SciencesJune 10, 2015WASHINGTON – While a 1980 reform law enabled the modernization and stabilization of the U.S. freight railroad industry, federal regulation has not kept pace with the industry’s transformation and should be replaced with a system better-suited for today’s freight rail system, says a new congressionally mandated report from […] Read More »

Board Recommends Updating Regulation of Freight Rates

Greenwire/E&E Publishing, Sean ReillyJune 10, 2015The existing federal framework for regulating freight railroad rates has outlived its usefulness and needs an overhaul, an advisory panel said in a report released today. Following the resurgence of freight rail companies since enactment of a 1980 deregulation law, “this is just not the same industry in almost any respect,” […] Read More »

STB Should Restrike Balance for Shippers

May 25, 2015, Agweek, Mike Pates U.S. Surface Transportation Board recently announced it will hold hearings in June to address whether the system for challenging rail rates can or should be made simpler and less expensive.It’s “long overdue,” says Deb Miller, acting STB chairwoman, in a press release.That’s an understatement.The last grain case filed with […] Read More »

Severe Fuel Supply Emergency Response Act of 2015 Introduced to Coordinate Response when Unreliable Rail Service Threatens Coal Supplies at Minnesota Power Plants

May 26, 2015, Senator Al Franken (D-MN) Press Release.  Sen. Franken’s New Measure Would Coordinate Response When Unreliable Rail Service Threatens Coal Supplies at Minnesota Power PlantsSenator Says Temporary Shutdowns at Minnesota Utilities Last Winter Showed Need for Plan When Coal Stockpiles Dwindle to Dangerous Levels WASHINGTON, D.C. [05/26/15]— U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has introduced a […] Read More »

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Approved (and reported out of Committee) the Nomination of Daniel R. Elliott III to Serve as Member on the Surface Transportation Board

May 20, 2015, Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Press Release.WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation passed 13 bills and approved nominations for three agencies. Bills and nominations passed are as follows: 1.    S. 1331, Seasonal Forecasting Improvement Act, Sponsor: Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)                a.    Passed with Booker amendment                b.    Passed […] Read More »

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to Vote on STB Member-Nominee Daniel Elliott.

Executive Session Scheduled for May 20Markup of thirteen bills and three nominationsRepublican Press Office – (202) 224-1251May 14 2015WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Wednesday, May 20, 2015, at 10:30 a.m. to consider legislation and nominations. Agenda:1.    S. 1331, Seasonal Forecasting Improvement Act, […] Read More »

Rail Industry and Government Struggle to Balance Safety and Efficiency in Shipments

May 17, 2015, By Jim SpencerStar Tribune WASHINGTON — Bob Zelenka, executive director of the Minnesota Grain and Feed Association, sums up the current rail shipping conditions for Minnesota grain farmers in a single sentence:“What a difference a year makes.”A transportation crisis driven by more crude oil trains and bitterly cold temperatures in 2013-2014 turned into […] Read More »

BNSF Cuts Back Grain Car Delays

May 17, 2015, The Bismarck Tribune, APRIL BAUMGARTEN Forum News Service More cars and less cargo means fewer delays. That’s what officials said last week, referring to the most recent grain by rail numbers. BNSF Railway had 144 outstanding grain cars from May 9-12 in North Dakota, and the company’s trains were an average of 6.8 days […] Read More »

The catalyst that transformed freight rail transport

By Robert E. Gallamore4786The government should tread carefully as it ponders regulatory changes to the U.S. freight rail system.There is history here that Washington — which witnessed the collapse of many private-sector railroads a third of a century ago and bankrolled billions of dollars for their rescue — should well understand. But in case the […] Read More »

RAIL: Freight rates spark hearing clash between industry, customers

Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E reporter Published: Thursday, May 14, 2015 This story was updated at 9:51 a.m. Representatives of the freight rail industry yesterday clashed sharply with its customers on whether the sector needs more regulation to ensure fair shipping rates. At issue: the 1980 Staggers Rail Act, the law that virtually saved the rail […] Read More »

The Fertilizer Institute Calls For Meaningful Surface Transportation Board Reform

May 14, 2015, Fertilizer Institute Press Release, States News Service The following information was released by the Fertilizer Institute:With today’s House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure as a backdrop, The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) registered its support for policies that will promote greater competition between railroads and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Surface Transportation Board […] Read More »

Railroads Say Freight ate Reforms Could Derail Capacity

May 14, 2015, Chemical News & Intelligence, By Joe Kamalick WASHINGTON (ICIS)–US chemicals producers and a broad range of other manufacturers this week tried to get railroad freight rate reform back on track in Congress, but rail carriers again warned legislators to avoid reforms that could derail capital investments.In [1]a hearing before the House [2]Subcommittee on […] Read More »

Shippers hoist by own petard at House hearing

Written by  Frank N. Wilner, Contributing Editor inShare Poor Mr. Dooley – Calvin, that is, president of the American Chemistry Council and not the fictional Mr. Dooley created during the late 19th century by humorist Finley Peter Dunne. The latter gained library space in Teddy Roosevelt’s White House; the former seemed to hoist himself by […] Read More »

STB to address rail pricing issues at public hearings

The U.S. Surface Transportation Board has announced plans for two public hearings on the country’s railways, a sign the federal agency is amping up efforts to address shippers’ frustrations with rail pricing. Read More »

Sen. Franken Backs Railway Reform Proposal To Help Minnesota Farmers, Businesses Move Goods

May 11, 2015, Senator Al Franken Press Release Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) threw his support behind new legislation to address challenges faced by Minnesota industries that rely on railways to ship their goods.The Rail Shipper Fairness Act, originally sponsored by Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), aims to reduce costs and improve service problems faced by […] Read More »

Senate Panel Wants Action on Rail Rate Fee Disputes

May 06, 2015 11:43AM (BNA) – If confirmed, Surface Transportation Board member nominee Daniel Elliott faces pressure to make shipping rate fees more competitive and to more quickly resolve rate fee disputes. During a hearing today by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Elliott addressed lawmakers’ concerns that the process of settling rate disputes between railroads […] Read More »

Utilities, railroads spar over 'data for data's sake' for fuel deliveries

Blake Sobczak, E&E reporterPublished: Friday, May 1, 2015Last year, several coal-fired power plants in the Midwest came days away from shutting down as railroads failed to deliver enough fuel during the winter.Now a federal rule to promote transparency in the wake of those disruptions is meeting pushback from the rail industry as service improves.The Surface […] Read More »

Shippers group presses for action on STB nomination

Sean Reilly, E&E reporterPublished: Tuesday, April 21, 2015 A coalition of freight rail shippers is urging the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to move quickly on the nomination of Daniel Elliott for another term on the Surface Transportation Board (STB). “A vacancy at the STB creates uncertainties and delays for the rail shippers that […] Read More »

Commerce Committee Approves Five Bills and Three Nominations

Surface Transportation Board Reforms Approved by Voice Vote Republican Press Office – (202) 224-1251 Mar 25 2015 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved five bills by voice vote and three nominations listed below. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman, issued the following statements: On the bipartisan markup: “Today’s mark-up […] Read More »

Senate Commerce Committee to Mark-up STB Reauthorization Act on March 25, 2015

Markup of five bills and three nominations Republican Press Office – (202) 224-1251 Mar 25 2015 WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session on Wednesday, March 25, 2015, at 2:30 p.m. to consider the following legislative measures and nominations. All bills under consideration enjoy bipartisan support.   Agenda: […] Read More »

Senate Commerce Committee Chair Tune and Ranking Member Nelson Introduce STB Reauthorization Bill

Featured Legislation Mar 20 2015 U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), who respectively serve as the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced the introduction of S. 808, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) Reauthorization Act of 2015. The STB is the federal regulatory body […] Read More »

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