STB initiates new reporting requirements for Class I railroads

By Erin Voegele | October 14, 2014

The Surface Transportation Board has published a decision announcing Class I railroads will now be required to publicly file weekly data reports regarding service performance. Certain data on ethanol shipments are among the new reporting requirements.

According to the STB, the reports will promote industry-wide transparency, accountability and improvements in rail service. The board has taken this action in response to concerns raised at recent hearings, including one that featured testimony from two South Dakota-based ethanol producers.

Under the new requirements, all Class I railroads will be required to report system-average trains speed by eight specific train types, including ethanol unit and grain unit trains. The requirement is also in place for intermodal, automotive unit, coal unit, crude oil unit, manifest and all other trains.

The railroads are also required to report weekly average terminal dwell time, measured in hours, excluding cars on run-through trains for that carrier’s system and its 10 largest terminals in terms of railcar capacity.

In addition, Class I railroads must report on total cars on line by car types for the reporting week. Car types include box, covered hopper, gondola, intermodal, multilevel, open hopper, tank, other and total.

Weekly average dwell time at origin for unit train shipments must also be reported, sorted by grain, coal, automotive, crude oil, ethanol and all other unit trains. According to the STB, dwell time refers to the time period between billing and release of a unit train at origin until actual movement by the carrier.

The reports will include the weekly total number of trains held short of destination or scheduled interchange for longer than six hours sorted by train type, including intermodal, grain unit, coal unit, automotive unit, crude oil unit, ethanol unit, and all other. The weekly total number of trains held short of destination or scheduled interchange for longer than six hours will also be sorted by cause, including crew, locomotive power, track maintenance, mechanical issue or other.

The STB indicated reports will include data on the weekly total number of loaded and empty cars, stated separately, in revenue service that have not moved in more than 120 hours, and between 48 and 120 hours, sorted by intermodal, grain, coal, crude oil, automotive, ethanol and all other.

The reports will include the weekly number of grain cars loaded and bills, reported by state, aggregated by Standard Transportation Commodity Codes for barely, corn, oats, rye, sorghum grains, wheat, other grains, soybeans, dry beans, dry peas, and cowpeas, lentils or lupines. For the aggregated STCCs, the report will include the running total number of outstanding car orders, average number of days late for all outstanding grain car orders, the total number of new car orders received during the past week, the total number of car orders filled during the past week and the number of orders cancelled by shipper and railroad during the past week.

In addition, the reports will feature plan versus performance for grain shuttle round trips by region, and average daily coal unit train loadings versus plan for the reporting week by coal production region.

Additional reporting requirements are required for Class I railroads operating at the Chicago gateway, and for Class I railroads that are members of the Chicago Transportation Coordination Office.

Class I railroads will begin submitting the required data on Oct. 22. According to the STB notice, the STB currently intends to collect this data on a temporary basis. However, a rulemaking will be initiated in the near future to determine whether to institute permanent data reporting requirements on service performance.

Additional information is available on the STB website