On July 26, the Chlorine Institute, along with the North American Freight Car Association (NAFCA), National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), and the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA), filed a petition with the Surface Transportation Board (STB). In this petition, CI and its fellow petitioners requested an update to the regulations governing the use by the Class I railroads of freight railcars supplied to them by railcar owners, shippers, and other railroad entities (collectively referred to as “Private Railcars”). This petition was filed in an effort to rectify an imbalance caused by the inefficient use of such railcars. Approximately 73% of railcars (a total of 1.2 million) used in service today are no longer owned by the railroads, but rather are Private Railcars purchased or leased, and maintained, by non-railroad entities at little to no cost to the railroads that use them. It is CI’s position that current regulations and policies do not adequately protect the enormous investment by Private Railcar owners, in most cases, because they do not create incentives for the Class I railroads to use the Private Railcars efficiently.
The proposed solution is a regulatory mechanism that utilizes existing principles governing demurrage and accessorial charges to provide greater incentives for railroads to use more efficiently the Private Railcars in their possession. In the wake of significant rail service issues and delays over the past few years, caused by the implementation of Precision Scheduled Railroading, severe weather events, and lack of labor resources due to COVID-19, CI believes it is a critical time to amend existing policies and regulations that would foster fair rates, fair competition, and an efficient rail network.