Railroad Industry Agreement Mediation Process Explained

ASLRRA VP & General Counsel Keith Borman reports on the mediation process available through the Railroad Industry Agreement, as administered by the STB-charted Railway Industry Working Group:

In 1998, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) and the American Short Line Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) entered into the Railroad Industry Agreement (RIA). Core principles of the RIA include recognition of the fact that railroads are better served with market-based resolutions to issues rather than government intervention; and, when a small railroad has a legitimate grievance, the available remedy should be as fair, quick, and inexpensive as possible. The RIA addressed a number of relationship issues between large and small railroads.

To facilitate the resolution of potential areas of concern between large and small rail carriers addressed by the RIA, the Agreement provides various private sector approaches. First, an issue can be brought for discussion before the Rail Industry Working group (RIWG), a committee of Class I railroad and short line representatives. Second, the RIA provides for a formal arbitration process.

Lastly, under the direction of the RIWG, the AAR and the ASLRRA administer a voluntary, non-binding mediation process to address disputes related to the RIA.

The mediation process is available to railroad subscribers to the RIA. In the event of any dispute between subscribers to the RIA over the interpretation or the application of the terms of the RIA, a party to the dispute may request that the issues involved be mediated under the AAR-ASLRRA mediation process. The party requesting mediation, if it is a Class I railroad, will submit the request to the General Counsel of the AAR. If the party requesting mediation is a Class II or Class III railroad, it will submit its request to the General Counsel of the ASLRRA. The General Counsel to whom the request is made will then communicate such request to his/her counterpart at the other Association who will then advise the other party to the dispute of the request.

If both parties agree, the mediation process will commence. The mediators will be the General Counsels of the AAR and the ASLRRA. The parties will agree at the outset on the ground rules for the mediation, e.g. whether in person or by telephone, whether principals or with counsel, whether written or oral submissions, the schedule for the process, etc. The mediators will work with the parties, consistent with the approved ground rules, to try to reach an agreement on the matters in dispute or to narrow the issues in dispute. In all events, the process is non-binding and the process does not preclude any party, at any time, from taking any other action to which it is legally entitled with respect to the matters at issue.

The entire mediation process, including any request for mediation, shall be private and confidential unless both parties otherwise agree. It shall be the understanding of all participants that information disclosed in the mediation process shall not be disclosed in any forum unless agreed upon by all parties or unless otherwise required by law. (In the latter case, all parties will be provided with notice of such legal requirement prior to disclosure, if permitted by law.)

If you have any questions on the RIA mediation process, contact Keith Borman at

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