Rail Regulatory Excellence IntelliConference

Rules and regulations are promulgated in reaction to various events and experiences. Often, they develop a life of their own, untethered to the original intent, frustrating stakeholders. Improvements are often challenging as individual industries and companies beseech government from a vested-interest point of view. The North American Freight Forum will gather all informed perspectives into a body of rail regulatory recommendations to be delivered to the U.S., Mexican and Canadian administrations.

Core question: What regulations can stakeholders agree on that are either outdated, de minimis, redundant, counter-productive, or can be improved or replaced in support of the growth and safety of railroads and their service?

Round One

Completing the framework

     In addition to the following, what other areas do regulations apply in owning and operating

      • Financial reporting
      • Service  reporting
      • Licenses and permits
      • Employee Management
      • Maintenance of way
      • Taxes
      • Insurance and liability
      • Locomotive emissions
      • Rolling stock design/equipment requirements
      • Equipment supplier country of origin
      • Cybersecurity
      • National security/DoD functions
      • Common carrier (e.g., must haul high-risk, high-liability hazmat commodities)
      • Interchange rules (e.g., receiving RRs are responsible for safe railcar conditions)

     Pertaining to each regulatory area:

      • What regulations are counter-productive?
      • What regulations are redundant, and where is another regulation or procedure handling the issue?
      • What regulations should be eliminated because the issue they target is inconsequential?
      • What regulations should be improved in some way? How?
      • What regulations have some positive impact (in total benefits across all stakeholders) and costs that outweigh the benefits?
      • What regulations impact customers’ shipping mode decisions in a way that is counter-productive to the overall policy goal?
      • What activities or relationships need new regulations? Examples:
        • Railcar defect detection
        • Trackage defect detection
        • Train control safety technology (e.g., ECP braking, PTC  II)
        • Directed service (e.g., by a regulatory body)
        • Degree of inter- and intra-modal competition  

Round Two

Establish measures and impacted parties

     For each of the regulations identified in Round One:

      • Who are the stakeholders?
      • What data is used to illuminate the need for that regulation?
      • What data is used to quantify the benefits of each regulation for each stakeholder group?
      • How is the cost of implementing a regulation apportioned and funded relative to each stakeholder group?

Round Three

Finetune regulations for optimal fit

     How do regulations need to be informed by the characteristics of rail        

      • What regulations that apply to larger railroads should be amended for smaller railroads?
      • What regulations should be further distinguished for line haul routes of varying characteristics? Examples:
        • PTC equipped
          • Itself an example of distinguishing by lines hosting passenger trains or TIH commodity freight shipments
        • FRA track classification level
        • Traffic level (by tonnage, train frequency)
        • Operating metrics (traffic level, train velocity, recrew rates)
      • What regulations should be further distinguished for terminals and railyards of varying characteristics? Examples:
        • Degree of automated operations
        • Degree of automated inspection capability
        • Provision of yard air
        • Operating metrics (switching volume, terminal dwell, first-mile/ last-mile congestion).
      • What regulations should be further distinguished by commodity hauled or railcar type?
        • Hazmat
        • Gross weight per car classification
        • Excess length/height railcars
        • Consist oriented characteristics
          • Train length and weight
          • Railcar placement in consist
          • Container/trailer placement per railcar
          • Buffer car requirements

Round Four

Prioritization and Process

     What priority regulatory issues should we focus on soonest at the North American Freight

     What process should be established for reviewing and/or sunsetting rules and

     regulations at intervals or upon a change in circumstances?

     What monitoring or reporting regime is required to measure and reassess these benefits
      and costs?

      • How frequently should a regulation undergo review to understand changes in benefits and costs?
      • What monitoring or reporting improvements can be identified?
      • What performance metrics should be improved?
      • What are the performance metrics for each?

    How should hard and soft costs of rules and regulations be calculated and recognized?

      • Who are the stakeholders?
      • What data is used to illuminate the need for that regulation?
      • What data is used to quantify the benefits of each regulation for each stakeholder group?
      • How is the cost of implementing a regulation apportioned and funded relative to each stakeholder group?

     Can phasing make sense when crafting regulations to address a systemic issue?  For

      • Short-term deployment, low cost, limited but significant effectiveness
      • Mid-term deployment, medium cost, higher effectiveness
      • Long-term deployment, highest cost, highest potential effectiveness
        • Effectiveness/ROI to be determined through directed research and analysis.

     What changes should be made to rulemaking and regulatory processes?

      • Does the regulation account for all stakeholders?
      • Does the regulation alter modal freight rates and service levels in a way that negates the overall benefit?
      • Examples for evaluation:    
        • Hours of service limitations to promote safe operation
        • Total GHG/particulate/NOx emissions per shipment unit
        • Toxic material emissions per accident
        • Equipment inspection intervals

     How can the NAFF Regulatory IntelliConference process be institutionalized and

     How can the need for rules and regulations be mitigated with trust and cooperation?

      • To what extent can independent and transparent performance monitoring or reporting ensure a “trust but verify” outcome that:
        • Limits the need for regulation
        • Indicates that a regulation is required
      • What Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) facilitate trust and cooperation, and how are they registered and interpreted?
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