ACC welcomes policy changes that facilitate emergency relief for freight rail service failures; rules also establish separate, accelerated process to address situations when rail service failures threaten public health and safety

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January 26, 2024 (press release) –

WASHINGTON (January 25, 2024)- Yesterday, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) announced important changes that will help make it easier for freight rail customers to seek emergency relief for service failures. ACC strongly supports these reforms to enhance the utility of the Board’s emergency service orders.

The new rules on Expedited Relief for Service Emergencies (STB Docket EP 762) streamline the process for the STB to direct a railroad to address a service failure or to provide a rail customer access to an alternative railroad. Importantly, the Board has established a separate, accelerated process to address situations when rail service failures threaten public health and safety, or would force a business closure or plant shutdown.

“Rail service failures have become all too common over the past decade and these reforms will provide a much-needed solution for addressing rail problems before they cause major disruptions to the nation’s supply chain,” said Jeff Sloan, ACC Senior Director for Regulatory and Scientific Affairs. “The Board’s current process for tackling rail service problems is too lengthy and burdensome to effectively address emergency situations.”

“The new rules are not a solution for all, or even most, service problems, which is why we want to make it clear that the Board must take additional action to address long-standing and ongoing freight rail problems,” Sloan added. “Specifically, the STB must finalize its long-overdue reforms to its reciprocal switching rules, which can provide access to additional remedies for poor rail service.”

Reciprocal switching can help provide greater access to other rail service options and promote greater competition within the rail industry, which would encourage railroads to be more customer-focused and help prevent future service disruptions.

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council’s mission is to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing. To achieve this, we: Champion science-based policy solutions across all levels of government; Drive continuous performance improvement to protect employees and communities through Responsible Care®; Foster the development of sustainability practices throughout ACC member companies; and Communicate authentically with communities about challenges and solutions for a safer, healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our vision is a world made better by chemistry, where people live happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives, safely and sustainably—for generations to come.


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