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SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD PROPOSES NEW DISCLOSURE & DISCOVERY RULES TO ADDRESS CONTRACTUAL INTERCHANGE COMMITMENTS RELATED TO RAIL LINE LEASES & SALES




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>From the Surface Transportation Board, Washington, D.C.
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The Surface Transportation Board (Board) today issued its decision in Rail
Access and Competition Issues Renewed Petition of Western Coal Traffic
League, STB Ex Parte No. 575 concerning contractual interchange
commitments, or "paper barriers."  Such provisions, sometimes found in rail
line lease or sale agreements, restrict either the ability or the incentive
of a tenant or purchasing railroad to interchange traffic with carriers
other than the lessor or selling carrier.


 In its decision, the Board unanimously concluded that it will examine such
 provisions on a case-by-case basis, given the variations in the terms of
 such contractual provisions and in the circumstances in which they arise.
 The Board also is proposing new disclosure rules to ensure advance
 regulatory scrutiny of any such provisions involving a new sale or lease
 for which Board authorization is sought, as well as expedited discovery
 rules to ensure that parties challenging an existing interchange
 commitment can obtain quick access to the carriers' agreement.  The new
 proposed regulations are set forth in the Appendix to the decision and
 will be published in the Federal Register.  The Board's decision is in
 response to a renewed petition for rulemaking by the Western Coal Traffic
 League.


 Under the proposed regulations, the Board would require parties to a
 transaction to identify any interchange commitment and the affected
 interchange points when they seek Board authorization for the sale or
 lease and to file the agreement and any related documents with the Board.
 To obtain discovery of existing interchange agreements in a proceeding, a
 party would file a motion that must be replied to within 10 days.  The
 Board would consider that motion in an expedited manner.  Comments on the
 proposed regulations must be filed by January 2, 2008.  Replies will be
 due January 22, 2008.  Parties wishing to comment on the Board's proposed
 regulations should refer to the Federal Register Notice for instructions.


 Commissioner Mulvey concurred in the result and commented separately.


 The Board's decision today in STB Ex Parte No. 575(
 http://www.stb.dot.gov/decisions/readingroom.nsf/WebDecisionID/36758?OpenDocument
 )
  is available for viewing and downloading on the agency's Web site at
 http://www.stb.dot.gov under "E-Library," then under "Decisions &
 Notices," beneath the date "10/30/07."  Printed copies of the Board
 decision also are available for a fee by contacting ASAP Document
 Solutions, 9332 Annapolis Rd., Suite 103, Lanham, MD 20706, telephone
 (202) 306-4004, or via asapdc@xxxxxxxxxxxx


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