On January 1st, several more railroads including the Norfolk Southern imposed increased demerge charges on the storage of railcars based on fewer days to load or unload those cars. In fact, in some cases, the time is limited to 24 hours. This new scheduling is part of what CSXT instituted a couple of years ago with Precision Rail Scheduling that’s purpose is to increase the velocity of the trains by reducing the turn around times for railcars. This situation has left scrap processors and their customers with few options. As a result, ISRI along with several of its members and joined by several other groups have already met with all three members of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to express our concerns with this new scheme. The STB has already heard from many shippers about these charges. ISRI will be arranging additional meetings with the STB members to keep them updated about the rail service problems and additional chanrges imposed by the railroads.
The STB recently lifted the ex parte restriction concerning the rulemaking to revoke the rail exemption for ferrous scrap enabling us to educate the two new STB members who were not in place when this rulemaking was started. It also provides a new opportunity to brief the chairman who was in her position but in an acting role. The rulemaking was delayed foloowing the Presidential Election when the chairman and another board member reigned as their terms were ending. The Trump Administration did not nominate the new STB members for well over a year and the Senate did not confirm them until recently. The Association of American Railroads supported our petition along with almost a dozen ISRI members and several other organizations including the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA). However, the railroads in their submission also asked the STB to institute additional requirements in their rulemakings including cost-benefit and other costly analysis to make it more difficult and expensive to proceed on these types of rules. ISRI will be filing its responses in the coming weeks as well as meeting with the STB members again. Additionally, ISRI is teaming up with other organizations to lobby the STB and Congress to make them aware of these unfair and uncompetitive practices. ISRI has been quite successful in getting the ears of many lawmakers with the help our the ISRI membership about our rail service issues.
For more information about the rail issues or if you would like to get involved, please contact Billy Johnson.