Surface Transportation Board
The three-member Surface Transportation Board (STB) was established by the ICC Termination Act of 1995 as a quasi-judicial agency of the United States Department of Transportation. The Board has exclusive jurisdiction to implement the federal laws regarding the relationship of the railroads with their customers and with each other.
- The reasonableness of rates charged to captive rail customers;
- Issues regarding switching facilities and terminal area access;
- Railroad mergers and acquisitions, including the sale of track to short line railroads from major railroads;
- Competition issues, including the bottleneck issue and “paper barriers”; and,
- Emergency service orders.
Most activities of the railroad industry, including mergers and acquisitions, are exempt from the antitrust laws of the nation. Issues within the jurisdiction of the Board may not be litigated in the federal or state courts.
The decisions and policies of the STB establish the guidelines and parameters for railroad actions that are acceptable under the law. Every day, individual captive rail customers and their railroad carriers “negotiate” the rates and terms of movements guided by the decisions of the Board.
Board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, each with a five-year term of office and a one-year holdover period. Although there are five seats on the Board, the Acting Chairman is Ann D. Begeman. The first term for Member Deb Miller expired December 31, 2018. The two Republican seats and one Democratic seat remain vacant.
STB’s Public Assistance and Other Resources
The Board offers various services to freight rail shippers thru its Rail Customer and Public Assistance Program. If your entity has questions that need to be answered by the STB, has a service or rate concern, or is in need of other regulatory assistance, start by contacting this division.
In addition, the STB thru its Office of Environmental Analysis has produced and made available a Railroad Map Depot. This site serves as STB’s clearinghouse for maps of past and ongoing cases before the Board. Information contained on this site is based on publicly available maps and data produced by railroads, government agencies, and other stakeholders. It can be accessed here.
Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015 and Implementation
The Surface Transportation Board (STB) Reauthorization Act of 2015, S. 808 (S. Rpt. 114-52), was signed into law (P.L. 114-110) on December 11, 2015. It provides the first authorization for the STB since 1998 and establishes basic reforms and process enhancements for the Board. For more information, click here.
STB Hearings and/or Proceedings Impacting FRCA and Freight Rail-Dependent Shippers
- Docket No. FD 36004, Canadian Pacific Railway Limited – Petition for Expedited Declaratory Order (FRCA Submitted Comments March 23, 2016)
- Docket No. 35506, “Impact of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.’s acquisition of BNSF on certain costing determinations” (March 22, 2012)
- Docket No. EP, 739, “Ex Parte Communications in Informal Rulemaking Proceedings” (November 16, 2017)
- Docket No. EP 738, Regulatory Reform Task Force (FRCA Submitted Comments July 21, 2017)
- Docket No. EP 733, Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Expediting Rate Cases (FRCA Signed-on to Submitted WCTL Group Comments August 1, 2016, Reply Comments August 29, 2016, final Reply Comments on June 14, 2017. STB Final Rule on November 20, 2017.)
- Docket No. EP 731, Final Rule, Rules Relating to Board-Initiated Investigations (December 13, 2016)
- Docket No. EP 731, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Rules Relating to Board-Initiated Investigations (July 15, 2016)
- Docket No. EP 730, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Revisions to Arbitration Procedures (July 1, 2016)
- Docket No. EP 724 (Sub-No. 4), Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Rail Service Issues–Performance Data Reporting (FRCA Signed-on to Western Coal Traffic League Group Comments May 31, 2016)
- Docket No. EP 724 (Sub-No. 4), Rail Service Issues–Performance Data Reporting , Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (April 29, 2015)
- Docket No. EP 724 (Sub-No. 4), Rail Service Issues–Performance Data Reporting, Ex-Parte Communications (FRCA Submitted Communications December 23, 2015 and December 3, 2015)
- Docket No. EP 724, “United States Rail Service Issues”, Public Field Hearing in Fargo, ND (September 4, 2014)
- Docket No. EP 724, “United States Rail Service Issues”, Public Hearing (April 10, 2014)
- Docket No. EP 722, “Railroad Revenue Adequacy”, Public Hearing (FRCA Submitted Written Comments July 23-24, 2015)
- Docket No. EP-712, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review”, Final Rule (February 18, 2016)
- Docket No. EP 712, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review”, Submitted CURE/FRCA Comments (January 10, 2012)
- Docket No. EP 711 (Sub No. 1), Reciprocal Switching Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FRCA Submitted Comments October 26, 2016
- Docket No. EP 711, “Petition for Rulemaking to Adopt Revised Competitive Switching Rules”, Public Hearing (March 26, 2014)
- Docket No. EP 711, “Petition for Rulemaking to Adopt Revised Competitive Switching Rules”, Public Hearing (March 25, 2014)
- Ex Parte No. 705, “Competition in the Freight Rail Industry” (June 22-23, 2011)
- Docket No. EP 704 (Sub-No. 1), Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Review of Commodity, Boxcar, and TOFC/COFC Exemptions (FRCA Submitted Comments July 25, 2016)
- Ex Parte No. 704, “Revisiting Commodity, Boxcar and Intermodal Regulatory Exemptions” (FRCA Submitted Comments July 25, 2016)