The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) would like to see the Surface Transportation Board (STB) make more of a statement regarding Class 1 demurrage and accessorial practices.
On Oct. 7, the STB released a proposed policy statement following a public hearing in May, but the NGFA does not believe that is enough. The association wants the federal agency to take a much firmer stance on demurrage and accessorial practices, one that makes the Class 1s accountable for their actions. The NGFA recommends allowing rail customers to submit filings or petitions to the STB when a Class 1 is acting out of line and wants the STB to discipline when necessary.
In a statement, the NGFA said: “The NGFA is disappointed by the proposal not to establish bright-line rules to govern the commercial fairness, commercial achievability and reciprocity of rail carriers’ demurrage and accessorial tariffs. As has been amply demonstrated, the Class 1 railroads have little interest or incentive to be forthcoming or altruistic in amending their demurrage and accessorial policies voluntarily to conform with even the best principles and guidance developed by the agency.”
Specifically, the NGFA wants the STB to propose rules or adopt a streamlined and abbreviated procedural schedule for resolving demurrage and accessorial complaints brought by shippers and receivers so that a decision is rendered in no more than 45 days, with a separate 15-day timeline for deciding disputes involving incorrect invoicing and dispute-resolution tariff terms, conditions and practices. The association also wants a committee to be formed to assist the STB on the principles on demurrage and accessorial practices. The committee will be able to police the Class 1s and recommend any change in policy.
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