WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The Corn Refiners Association said excessive fees from the railroads warrants an investigation and wants clarification of “reasonableness,” according to testimony given May 22 to the Surface Transportation Board.

The hearing was called due to concerns expressed by users of the freight rail network and other stakeholders about the changes to demurrage and accessorial tariffs being implemented by various Class I railroads.

John Bode, president and chief executive officer of the association, presented concerns of the shipper community with recent reductions in free-time before demurrage and storage charges begin to accrue and with the overall lack of reciprocity and commercial fairness in rail practices.

“CRA members do not object to demurrage and storage charges to incentivize the efficient use of railroad assets,” he said. “However, recent across-the-board free-time reductions to as few as zero days on private cars have stretched the credibility of railroad efficiency justifications. The rail industry’s recent actions have treated efficiency as a one-way street where any charge that enhances rail efficiency, no matter how small the enhancement, is justified without regard to the negative impacts upon rail customers, no matter how great those impacts. Railroads have not been willing to accept responsibility for the efficiency effects of their own behavior upon their customers.”

CRA members are highly dependent on rail transportation for their products, both for inbound shipments of raw materials and outbound shipments of finished products. Rail service issues have disrupted the business of CRA members, resulting in additional costs, threatening members’ production, and jeopardizing their customer relationships.

CRA’s written testimony can be found online here.