Assessment of Mediation and Arbitration Procedures
The Surface Transportation Board has proposed regulations that would require Class I and Class II rail carriers to participate in the Board's arbitration program, unless they file a prior written notice with the Board on an annual basis opting out of the program. By contrast, Class III rail carriers wishing to participate in the Board's arbitration program could file a request for arbitration with the Board under this docket at any time, or could voluntarily agree to participate in arbitration on a case-by-case basis. A shipper wishing to participate in the Board's arbitration program could so inform the Board on a case-by-case basis following the filing of a complaint. Pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act and Office of Management and Budget regulations, the Board now seeks comments regarding certain information pertaining to the proposed arbitration rules.
Assessment of Mediation and Arbitration Procedures
The Surface Transportation Board (Board or STB) proposes regulations that would require parties to participate in mediation in certain types of cases and would modify its existing regulations that permit parties to engage voluntarily in mediation. The Board also proposes an arbitration program under which carriers and shippers would agree voluntarily to arbitrate certain types of disputes that come before the Board, and proposes modifications to clarify and simplify its existing rules governing the use of arbitration in other disputes. The Board seeks comments regarding these proposed rules.
Quarterly Rail Cost Adjustment Factor
The Board has approved the second quarter 2012 rail cost adjustment factor (RCAF) and cost index filed by the Association of American Railroads. The second quarter 2012 RCAF (Unadjusted) is 1.185. The second quarter 2012 RCAF (Adjusted) is 0.520. The second quarter 2012 RCAF-5 is 0.492.
Waybill Data Released in Three-Benchmark Rail Rate Proceedings
When a shipper files a formal complaint that a railroad's rate is too high, the Surface Transportation Board (Board) must determine whether the challenged rate is reasonable. To present its case using the Board's procedures for small cases, the complaining shipper needs to obtain from the Board confidential information that the Board collects regarding the rates that the defendant railroad charges other shippers for similar shipments. Pursuant to the notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Federal Register on October 27, 2010, the Board is formalizing its rules with respect to the Three-Benchmark methodology for adjudicating simplified rate case complaints, making the most recent four years of this confidential information available to parties and permitting the parties to use any combination of the four years of confidential information when presenting their cases.
Released Rates of Motor Common Carriers of Household Goods
Notice is hereby given of recent Board decisions concerning interstate household-goods moves. In a decision served January 21, 2011 (January 2011 Decision), the Board implemented a Congressional directive to enhance consumer protection in the case of loss or damage that occurs during interstate household-goods moves.\1\ The January 2011 Decision required movers to provide certain information concerning the two available cargo-liability options \2\ on the written estimate formthe first form that a moving company must give to a customerand tentatively raised the dollar value levels used in reimbursing a consumer under the replacement-value option for lost or damaged goods when the consumer had not declared in advance how much the goods were worth. In a decision served on January 12, 2012 (January 2012 Decision), the Board, after reviewing comments filed in response to the January 2011 Decision, modified the requirement in the January 2011 Decision that certain information be put on the estimate form, and it adopted the raised value levels. In particular, the estimate form will now require a shorter notice to be conspicuously placed to notify the consumer early on that it will need to select a liability option at a later time. The brief notice must also refer a potential customer to two sources of further information on the two liability levels and their meaning. Furthermore, the Board will require that movers include the lengthier Valuation Statement \3\ on the bill of lading. In addition, the Board affirmed that the charges for full-value protection when the customer does not provide a declared value for a shipment will be the higher of $6.00 per pound (which may be indexed annually) or $6,000. The Board also clarified other aspects of the January 2011 Decision, including the application of these changes to household-goods freight forwarders. Finally, the Board established April 2, 2011, as the effective date for moving companies to comply with the changes outlined in the two decisions. These Board decisions are available on the Board's Web site at www.stb.dot.gov.
Denver & Rio Grande Railway Historical Foundation d/b/a Denver & Rio Grande Railroad, L.L.C.-Petition for Declaratory Order
In response to a petition filed by the Denver & Rio Grande Railway Historical Foundation, Inc. (DRGHF) on July 12, 2011, the Board is instituting a declaratory order proceeding under 49 U.S.C. 721 and 5 U.S.C. 554(e). DRGHF requests that the Board issue an order declaring that municipal zoning law is preempted with respect to DRGHF's activities on a parcel of land leased by DRGHF in Monte Vista, Colo.
RailAmerica, Inc., Palm Beach Holding, Inc., RailAmerica Transportation Corp., RailTex, Inc., Fortress Investment Group, LLC, and RR Acquisition Holding, LLC-Control Exemption-Marquette Rail, LLC
RailAmerica, Inc. (RailAmerica), Palm Beach Holding, Inc. (Palm Beach), RailAmerica Transportation Corp. (RTC), RailTex, Inc., Fortress Investment Group, LLC (Fortress), and RR Acquisition Holding, LLC (RR Acquisition) (collectively, Petitioners), seek an exemption under 49 U.S.C. 10502 from the prior approval requirements of 49 U.S.C. 11323-25 to acquire control of Marquette Rail, LLC (Marquette Rail), a Class III rail carrier. The Board seeks comments on Petitioners' proposed acquisition of control of Marquette Rail.
Western Coal Traffic League-Petition for Declaratory Order
The Surface Transportation Board (Board) instituted a declaratory order proceeding on September 28, 2011, Western Coal Traffic LeaguePetition for Declaratory Order, FD 35506 (STB served Sept. 28, 2011), and will hold a public hearing to explore the effect of the price that Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. (Berkshire) paid to acquire BNSF Railway Company (BNSF) in 2010 on the Board's annual Uniform Rail Costing System (URCS) and revenue adequacy determinations, with respect to BNSF.
Notice of Rail Energy Transportation Advisory Committee Meeting
Notice is hereby given of a meeting of the Rail Energy Transportation Advisory Committee (RETAC), pursuant to section 10(a)(2) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, Public Law 92-463, as amended (5 U.S.C., App. 2).
Information Collection Activities
As required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 3501-3519 (PRA), the Surface Transportation Board (STB or Board) gives notice of its intent to seek from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval of the information collections required under 49 U.S.C. 10904-05 and 10907, and 16 U.S.C. 1247(d). Under these statutory provisions, the Board administers programs designed to preserve railroad service or rail rights-of-way. When a line is proposed for abandonment, affected shippers, communities, or other interested persons may seek to preserve rail service by filing with the Board: an offer of financial assistance (OFA) to subsidize or purchase a rail line for which a railroad is seeking abandonment (49 U.S.C. 10904), including a request for the Board to set terms and conditions of the financial assistance; a request for a public use condition (Sec. 10905); or a trail-use request (16 U.S.C. 1247(d)). Similarly, when a line is placed on a system diagram map identifying it as an anticipated or potential candidate for abandonment, affected shippers, communities, or other interested persons may seek to preserve rail service by filing with the Board a feeder line application to purchase the identified rail line (Sec. 10907). Additionally, the railroad owning the rail line subject to abandonment must, in some circumstances, provide information to the applicant or offeror. The relevant information collections are described in more detail below. Comments are requested concerning: (1) The accuracy of the Board's burden estimates; (2) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; (3) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology when appropriate; and (4) whether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Board, including whether the collection has practical utility. Submitted comments will be summarized and included in the Board's Request For OMB Approval.
Railroad Cost Recovery Procedures-Productivity Adjustment
In a decision served on February 6, 2012, we proposed to adopt 1.008 (0.8% per year) as the measure of average change in railroad productivity for the 2006-2010 (5-year) averaging period. This represents a 0.6% decrease over the average for the 2005-2009 period. The Board's February 6, 2012 decision in this proceeding stated that comments may be filed addressing any perceived data and computational errors in our calculation. It also stated that, if there were no further action taken by the Board, the proposed productivity adjustment would become effective on March 1, 2012.
Iowa Interstate Railroad, Ltd.-Lease Exemption-Line of Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway Company
The Board grants an exemption under 49 U.S.C. 10502 from the prior approval requirements of 49 U.S.C. 10902 for Iowa Interstate Railroad, Ltd. (IAIS), a Class II rail carrier, to lease and operate 8.4 miles of railroad owned by Cedar Rapids & Iowa City Railway Co. (CRANDIC). The rail line, known as the Hills Line, extends from a connection with CRANDIC's Cedar Rapids-Iowa City line at milepost 25.0 near Burlington Street in Iowa City, Iowa to the end of track at milepost 33.4 in Hills, Iowa. The exemption is subject to employee protective conditions.
Information Collections; Request for Comments
As part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, and as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44 U.S.C. 3501- 3519 (PRA), the Surface Transportation Board (Board) gives notice of its intent to request from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval without change of the seven existing collections described below. Comments are requested concerning each collection as to (1) whether the particular collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Board, including whether the collection has practical utility; (2) the accuracy of the Board's burden estimates; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology, when appropriate. Submitted comments will be included and/ or summarized in the Board's request for OMB approval.
Release of Waybill Data
This document corrects a notice appearing in the Federal Register on January 5, 2012 (77 FR 551).