Surface Transportation Board Issues Demurrage Decisions

On October 7, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) announced several proposed decisions on rail demurrage and accessorial rules and charges, intending to make the dispute resolution process more streamlined and transparent. These decisions came as a result of public hearings held by the STB on the demurrage issue, where IWLA and other stakeholders voiced concerns on recent changes to demurrage and accessorial rules and charges being implemented by Class I railroads.

STB has proposed a Policy Statement on Demurrage and Accessorial Rules and Charges on principles the STB would consider in evaluating the reasonableness of demurrage charges. The policy statement deals with items such as free time, bunching, overlapping charges, invoicing and dispute resolution, credits, notice of major tariff changes, and warehouseman liability.

The Board also issued a proposed rule dealing with Demurrage Billing Requirements. The proposed rule requires Class I railroads to include information to help verify and determine who is responsible for delays on invoices and suggested that invoices go directly to shippers instead of the warehouse when that is already agreed upon.

Finally, the Board proposed a rule to clarify its regulations governing exemptions for certain miscellaneous commodities and boxcar transportation to guarantee that they reflect longstanding court and agency rulings that these exemptions do not apply to the regulation of demurrage. This would also be clarified regarding certain agricultural products.

IWLA’s Transportation Advisory Council is reviewing the STB decisions and will be submitting comments to the agency.

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