Summary: H.R.3446 — 106th Congress (1999-2000)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.3446. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (11/18/1999)

Surface Transportation Board Reform Act of 1999 - Title I: Railroad Competition - Amends Federal transportation law to declare as primary objectives for U.S. rail transportation policy: (1) ensuring effective competition among rail carriers at origin and destination; (2) maintaining reasonable rates in the absence of such competition; (3) maintaining consistent and efficient rail transportation service to shippers, including the timely provision of railcars requested by them; and (4) ensuring that smaller carload and intermodal shippers are not precluded from accessing rail systems due to volume requirements.

(Sec. 102) Requires a rail carrier, upon a shipper's request, to establish a rail transportation rate and provide service requested by the shipper between any two points on the carrier's system where traffic originates, terminates, or may reasonably be interchanged. Authorizes the shipper to challenge the reasonableness of the rate established. Requires the Surface Transportation Board to then determine the reasonableness of the rate so challenged without regard to whether: (1) the rate established is for only part of a movement between an origin and a destination; (2) the shipper has made arrangements for transportation for any other part of such movement; or (3) the shipper currently has a contract with a rail carrier for any part of the rail traffic at issue, provided that the rate prescribed by the Board shall not apply to transportation covered by such contract.

(Sec. 103) Prohibits the Board from imposing fees in excess of $1,000 for certain administrative services collected from an eligible facility in connection with rail maximum rate complaints.

Prohibits a rail carrier from charging a rate for shipments from or to an eligible facility which results in a revenue-to-variable cost percentage (using system average costs) for transportation service to which the rate applies that is greater than 180 percent.

Requires a rail carrier to accept all requests for grain service from an eligible facility up to a maximum of 110 percent of the grain carloads shipped from or to the facility in the preceding calendar year. Authorizes an eligible facility to request that an alternative rail carrier provide such service using the tracks of the original carrier if such carrier does not initiate service within a specified time. Requires the alternative carrier to compensate the other carrier for use of its tracks.

(Sec. 104) Changes from discretionary to mandatory the authority of the Board to require terminal facilities (including main-line tracks for a reasonable distance outside of a terminal) owned by a rail carrier providing rail transportation to be used by another rail carrier if the Board finds that use to be practicable and in the public interest without substantially impairing the carrier's ability to handle its own business. Declares that the Board, in making such determination, shall not require evidence of anticompetitive conduct by the rail carrier from which access is being sought. Makes similar changes to require rail carriers to enter into reciprocal switching agreements where such agreements are necessary to provide competitive rail service.

(Sec. 105) Prohibits the Board from considering evidence of product or geographic competition when making market dominance determinations in rail rate proceedings.

(Sec. 106) Amends U.S. rail transportation policy to repeal the mandate that the Board determine adequate revenues for rail carriers.

(Sec. 107) Directs the Secretary of Transportation to require, by regulation, each rail carrier to submit a monthly report containing certain information, including its on-time performance, car availability deadline performance, average train speed, average terminal dwell time, the number of its cars loaded (by major commodity group), and other aspects of its performance as a rail carrier. Requires the Secretary to make such report available to the Board, Congress, and to the public.

Title II: Protection of Collective Bargaining Agreements - Declares that a rail carrier, corporation, or person participating in the consolidation, acquisition of control, or merger of another rail carrier is exempt from the antitrust laws and from State and local laws governing such consolidations, mergers, and acquisitions of control of rail carriers to the extent necessary to let such rail carrier, corporation, or person carry out such transaction. Subjects, after such transaction is completed, the activities of a rail carrier participating in or resulting from such transaction to State and Federal law to the same extent as any other similarly situated rail carrier that has not participated in or resulted from such transaction.

(Sec. 202) Revises certain requirements regarding the approval of the consolidation or merger of two or more rail carriers (including arrangements for the protection of the interests of rail carrier employees) by the Surface Transportation Board.

Title III: Miscellaneous - Requires the Board in a proceeding involving the approval of the merger or control of at least two Class I railroads to consider at least, among other things, the: (1) safety and environmental effects of the proposed transaction, including the effect on local communities, and the public interest in enforcing Federal, State, and local safety and environmental laws; and (2) effect of such transaction on rail passenger transportation. Requires the Board to impose conditions with respect to such transaction to mitigate its effect on local communities when such conditions are in the public interest.

(Sec. 302) Authorizes a commuter authority to make an agreement with a rail carrier or regional transportation authority to use facilities of, and have services provided by, the carrier or authority in the same manner and under the same conditions as may Amtrak. Requires the Board to ensure that commuter authorities are able to provide commuter rail passenger transportation that develops the potential of modern rail transportation to meet the commuter rail passenger transportation needs of the United States.

(Sec. 303) Repeals provisions authorizing a rail carrier, without the approval of the Board, to enter into arrangements for the joint ownership or joint use of spur, industrial, team switching, or side tracks.

(Sec. 304) Requires water carriers to make their tariffs containing the rates established for their transportation or service available electronically to any person, without time, quantity, or other limitation, through appropriate access from remote locations. Authorizes the assessment of a reasonable charge for such access (except no charge for such access may be assessed to a Federal agency).

Title IV: Authorization of Appropriations - Authorizes appropriations.