The regulator of economic disputes between railroads and their freight shippers has slashed its filing fee structure, meaning rail customers can file a major challenge to freight rates for $350 instead of $20,600 as before.
The fee structure change is not a surprise as since the board proposed the action earlier this year to address shipper complaints that the agency’s processes made it too costly for disgruntled shippers to file cases against the railroads. Counting the cost of litigation, the time involved and the prospect they might lose anyway, few shippers have opted to file rate cases.
CSX, KCS Announce Executive Staff Addtions, Moves.
“High fees for the filing of formal complaints may discourage shippers and others from bringing complaints before the board,” the STB said in announcing the fee change. The new fee takes effect immediately.
The board kept a $150 charge in place for small shippers’ expedited rate complaint filings.
STB Chairman Daniel R. Elliott also urged rail customers to use the agency’s mediation service to avoid a major rate case.
The STB has been considering a number of major regulatory reforms, including the change in filing fees. Others include possible landmark changes to rail competition rules to require railroads to give customers more shipping options on rival rail lines, and to regulate types of cargo that the STB now lists as exempt from its oversight.