US shipping interests want rail storage fees regulated

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Rail storage fees assessed against ocean containers moving on “through bills of lading” should be overseen by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to close a regulatory gap that is ripe for “abuse.” Unlike ocean terminals, which are incentivized to improve network efficiencies by Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), rail terminals are not subject to oversight by FMC and they are exempt from Surface Transportation Board rules, which do not apply to intermodal transportation. In short, railroads are not governed by the Shipping Act, enforced by the FMC, and rail storage fees have gone unchecked.  A group of more than 70 shippers, forwarders and transportation interests have told leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in a letter dated May 2 rail storage charges should be assessed as part of through bills of lading invoiced to importers by ocean carriers, rather than railroads. That would then give the FMC oversight of such charges, given the agency’s regulatory authority over container shipping.

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