SLATER CALLS ON STB TO MOVE QUICKLY ON RAIL MERGER RULES
Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater said Thursday that the U.S. Surface Transportation Board needs to move swiftly to complete new rules for railroad mergers.
The STB in March imposed a 15-month moratorium on rail mergers while it sought to come up with new rules that would take into account congestion, service failures and safety issues that sprouted during previous mergers in the 1990s.
Slater said the board needs to be more vigorous in assessing the benefits and risks of proposed mergers. He said the STB should move swiftly to finish its rulemaking and not overlook current needs of the rail industry.
He stressed that the board's rules must address potential post-merger service problems. His suggestions included indemnification of shippers, short line railroads, Amtrak and commuter railroads if significant service problems happen following a merger.
The STB's moratorium stalled plans by Canadian National and Burlington Northern Santa Fe to seek STB approval for a merger, which would have created the largest rail network in North America.
CN said Wednesday in a filed comment that the STB needs to focus on public interest in determining whether a merger can better serve affected markets.