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The Surface Transportation Board (STB) will launch a rulemaking proceeding to define "on-time performance" under the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA), the agency announced Friday.In making its announcement, the STB granted the Association of American Railroads' (AAR) petition asking the agency to pursue rulemaking proceedings to define on-time performance. A provision under PRIIA allowed Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to jointly develop standards for on-time performance of Amtrak trains operating on privately owned freight railroads' track."The board fully recognizes that when Congress enacted PRIIA, it placed importance on the efficient and timely adjudication of on-time performance. Therefore, the board will develop a definition of on-time performance with public participation through a formal rulemaking so that a process will be in place as Congress intended," the STB stated in a press release.AAR's rulemaking request is related to its legal challenge to Section 207 under PRIIA. In a lawsuit, AAR claimed that the provision improperly granted Amtrak — a private company, according to AAR's argument — authority over the freight railroads in determining on-time performance for their track.In March, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned an appeals court decision by ruling Amtrak is a government entity, not a private company as AAR alleged. The court also sent the case back to an appeals court to rule on the other questions raised in AAR's lawsuit regarding Section 207."However, the Supreme Court's remand for consideration of other constitutional challenges to Section 207 means that the provision remains subject to an uncertainty that we must consider in addressing the proceedings before us," according to the STB's decision to launch the rulemaking process.
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