Freight rail challenge fee slashed

By Freddie Pierce
U.S. companies that ship via freight rail got some good news Thursday. The Surface Transportation Board, the agency that regulates freight rail, substa...

U.S. companies that ship via freight rail got some good news Thursday.

The Surface Transportation Board, the agency that regulates freight rail, substantially slashed the fees needed to challenge freight rail rates in a move designed to add more government investigations into freight rail pricing and business practices.

Under the new rules, the fee for filing a complaint against a railroad for an unreasonable rate or practice has been dropped from $20,600 to $350.

For years, shippers like farmers and manufacturers have complained that the previous high rate formed an unnecessarily large barrier against seeking legal action against rail companies that overcharged.

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The Surface Transportation board said that the high fees “may be having a chilling effect on shippers and other entities seeking to bring a complaint to the board,” according to a report on Dow Jones Newswires.

If nothing else, the lowering of costs should bring more complaints against freight rail companies.

Freight rail looks like it will continue to grow into the future. The newest regulations should allow more visibility into the freight rail business, which should keep quality up. Rising energy costs make shipping via rail more attractive than ever, as freight rail is very cost-effective when shipping long distances.

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