IWLA Joins Shippers Coalition to Address Rail Storage Fees at Ports
IWLA joined a coalition of 75 shipper groups that appealed last week to lawmakers to clarify that railroads should be billing ocean carriers, not shippers, for overseas import containers that the railroads pick up at the ports and transport to and store at rail yards throughout the country. Regulations should also be amended to make clear that the storage fees be subject to the demurrage and detention invoicing requirements of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2022, which is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). “Rail storage, a form of demurrage, is charged by railroads as part of international ocean transportation at the nation’s interior rail terminals,” stated the letter to the leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “However, when containers are delayed at the railyard often because of the railroad’s terminal operations, rail storage charges accrue. These storage fees [currently] must be paid directly to the railroad by importers or their agents in order to gain release of the containers. In recent years, these demurrage charges have resulted in costs to U.S. businesses in the hundreds of millions of dollars.” The charges have been difficult for shippers to dispute and/or recover due to what they contend is a long-standing jurisdictional gap between the FMC and the Surface Transportation Board, which regulates railroads, over railroad storage fees. That gap was highlighted at an FMC shipper advisory committee in March. Read More Read Letter
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