UPDATE: 5/8/2023— The World Shipping Council (WSC) has a contrary position to that of the shippers group. While the WSC may believe jurisdiction over rail storage charges should fall under the Surface Transportation Board (STB), it was apparent in our recent meetings with STB that they currently do not have that authority, nor do they seem intent on pursuing it.

The National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) composed a letter requesting Congress to mandate the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) exercise jurisdiction over rail storage fees in an upcoming rulemaking.

The letter signed by over 70 shippers, forwarders, and transportation interest’s tasks leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, that all rail storage fees against ocean containers moving on “through bills” of lading be overseen by the FMC to close a regulatory gap that is ripe for “abuse.” A through bill of lading involves an ocean carrier contracting for rail service to ensure a container is delivered from origin to an inland destination in the U.S.

Rail storage charges would then be invoiced to importers by ocean carriers, rather than railroads. That would give the FMC oversight of such charges, under the agency’s existing regulatory authority over container shipping.

Rail storage charges on through bills of lading have been stuck in a gray area between jurisdiction of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) and the Federal Maritime Administration (FMA) without a viable solution. This letter to Congress changes that with a clear ask that rail storage charges be billed back through the ocean carriers who contract with railroads for this service.

Share this article

Rich Roche