Demurrage is a charge that both compensates rail carriers for the expense incurred when rail cars are detained beyond a specified period of time (i.e., “free time”) for loading and unloading and serves as a penalty for undue car detention to encourage the efficient use of rail cars in the rail network. 49 C.F.R. § 1333.1. Accessorial charges includes charges for diverting a shipment in transit, ordering a railcar but releasing it empty, weighing a railcar, tendering one railroad’s car to another railroad without a line-haul move, special train or additional switching services, or releasing a railcar with incomplete or incorrect shipping instructions.
Demurrage and accessorial charges are subject to regulation by the Surface Transportation Board under 49 U.S.C. § 10702, which requires railroads to establish reasonable rates and transportation-related rules and practices, and under 49 U.S.C. § 10746, which requires railroads to compute demurrage charges, and establish rules related to those charges, in a way that will fulfill national needs related to freight car use and distribution and maintenance of an adequate car supply.
The Board sent letters to all seven Class I rail carriers on December 17, 2018, requesting that they provide quarterly revenues from demurrage and accessorial charges for each quarter of 2018, and to continue to provide this information on a quarterly basis. This request was prompted by changes to demurrage and accessorial tariffs and new operating plans being implemented by some of the Class I carriers.