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Rule

Major Rail Consolidation Procedures

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Surface Transportation Board, DOT.

ACTION:

Final rules.

SUMMARY:

The Surface Transportation Board (STB or Board) adopts final regulations governing proposals for major rail consolidations. These new rules substantially increase the burden on applicants to demonstrate that a proposed transaction would be in the public interest, by requiring them, among other things, to demonstrate that the transaction would enhance competition where necessary to offset negative effects of the merger, such as competitive harm or service disruptions.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

These rules are effective July 11, 2001.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Julia M. Farr, (202) 565-1613. [TDD for the hearing impaired: 1-800-877-8339.]

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Additional information is contained in the Board's decision. A printed copy of the Board's decision is available for a fee by contacting: Dā-To-Dā Office Solutions, Room 405, 1925 K Street, NW., Washington, DC 20006, telephone (202) 293-7776. The Board's decision is also available for viewing and downloading on the Board's website at “www.stb.dot.gov.Start Printed Page 32583

Small entities. The Board certifies that the revisions to our regulations will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities within the meaning of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). These rules have created additional filing requirements only for Class I applicants, which are very large rail carriers. At the same time we have given increased weight to issues and concerns of smaller railroads and shippers, a change that should benefit these small entities.

Environment. This action will not significantly affect either the quality of the human environment or the conservation of energy resources.

Board releases available via the Internet. Decisions and notices of the Board, including this decision, are available on the Board's website at “www.stb.dot.gov.

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Authority: 49 U.S.C. 721, 11323-11325.

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List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 1180

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Decided: June 7, 2001.

By the Board, Chairman Morgan, Vice Chairman Clyburn, and Commissioner Burkes. Chairman Morgan commented and dissented in part with a separate expression. Vice Chairman Clyburn and Commissioner Burkes commented with separate expressions.

Vernon A. Williams,

Secretary.

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For the reasons set forth in the preamble, Title 49, Subtitle B, Chapter X, Part 1180 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:

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PART 1180—RAILROAD ACQUISITION, CONTROL, MERGER, CONSOLIDATION PROJECT, TRACKAGE RIGHTS, AND LEASE PROCEDURES

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1. The authority citation for part 1180 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 5 U.S.C. 553 and 559; 11 U.S.C. 1172; 49 U.S.C. 721, 10502, 11323-11325.

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2. Section 1180.0 is revised to read as follows:

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Scope and purpose.

(a) General. The regulations in this subpart set out the information to be filed and the procedures to be followed in control, merger, acquisition, lease, trackage rights, and any other consolidation transaction involving more than one railroad that is initiated under 49 U.S.C. 11323. Section 1180.2 separates these transactions into four types: Major, significant, minor, and exempt. The informational requirements for these types of transactions differ. Before an application is filed, the designation of type of transaction may be clarified or certain of the information required may be waived upon petition to the Board. This procedure is explained in § 1180.4. The required contents of an application are set out in §§ 1180.6 (general information supporting the transaction), 1180.7 (competitive and market information), 1180.8 (operational information), 1180.9 (financial data), 1180.10 (service assurance plans), and 1180.11 (transnational and other informational requirements). A major application must contain the information required in §§ 1180.6(a), 1180.6(b), 1180.7(a), 1180.7(b), 1180.8(a), 1180.8(b), 1180.9, 1180.10, and 1180.11. A significant application must contain the information required in §§ 1180.6(a), 1180.6(c), 1180.7(a), 1180.7(c), and 1180.8(b). A minor application must contain the information required in §§ 1180.6(a) and 1180.8(c). Procedures (including time limits, filing requirements, participation requirements, and other matters) are contained in § 1180.4. All applications must comply with the Board's Rules of General Applicability, 49 CFR parts 1100 through 1129, unless otherwise specified. These regulations may be cited as the Railroad Consolidation Procedures.

(b) Waiver. We will waive application of the regulations contained in this subpart for a consolidation involving The Kansas City Southern Railway Company and another Class I railroad and instead will apply the regulations in this subpart A in effect before July 11, 2001 and contained in the 49 CFR, Parts 1000 to 1199, edition revised as of October 1, 2000, unless we are shown why such a waiver should not be allowed. Interested parties must file any objections to this waiver within 10 days after the applicants' prefiling notification (see 49 CFR § 1180.4(b)(1)).

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3. Section 1180.1 is revised to read as follows:

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General policy statement for merger or control of at least two Class I railroads.

(a) General. To meet the needs of the public and the national defense, the Surface Transportation Board (Board) seeks to ensure balanced and sustainable competition in the railroad industry. The Board recognizes that the railroad industry (including Class II and III carriers) is a network of competing and complementary components, which in turn is part of a broader transportation infrastructure that also embraces the nation's highways, waterways, ports, and airports. The Board welcomes private-sector initiatives that enhance the capabilities and the competitiveness of this transportation infrastructure. Although mergers of Class I railroads may advance our nation's economic growth and competitiveness through the provision of more efficient and responsive transportation, the Board does not favor consolidations that reduce the transportation alternatives available to shippers unless there are substantial and demonstrable public benefits to the transaction that cannot otherwise be achieved. Such public benefits include improved service, enhanced competition, and greater economic efficiency. The Board also will look with disfavor on consolidations under which the controlling entity does not assume full responsibility for carrying out the controlled carrier's common carrier obligation to provide adequate service upon reasonable demand.

(b) Consolidation criteria. The Board's consideration of the merger or control of at least two Class I railroads is governed by the public interest criteria prescribed in 49 U.S.C. 11324 and the rail transportation policy set forth in 49 U.S.C. 10101. In determining the public interest, the Board must consider the various goals of effective competition, carrier safety and efficiency, adequate service for shippers, environmental safeguards, and fair working conditions for employees. The Board must ensure that any approved transaction would promote a competitive, efficient, and reliable national rail system.

(c) Public interest considerations. The Board believes that mergers serve the public interest only when substantial and demonstrable gains in important public benefits—such as improved service and safety, enhanced competition, and greater economic efficiency—outweigh any anticompetitive effects, potential service disruptions, or other merger-related harms. Although further consolidation of the few remaining Class I carriers could result in efficiency gains and improved service, the Board believes additional consolidation in the industry is also likely to result in a number of anticompetitive effects, such as loss of geographic competition, that are increasingly difficult to remedy directly or proportionately. Additional consolidations could also result in service disruptions during the system integration period. Accordingly, to assure a balance in favor of the public interest, merger applications should include provisions for enhanced Start Printed Page 32584competition, and, where both carriers are financially sound, the Board is prepared to use its conditioning authority as necessary under 49 U.S.C. 11324(c) to preserve and/or enhance competition. In addition, when evaluating the public interest, the Board will consider whether the benefits claimed by applicants could be realized by means other than the proposed consolidation. The Board believes that other private-sector initiatives, such as joint marketing agreements and interline partnerships, can produce many of the efficiencies of a merger while risking less potential harm to the public.

(1) Potential benefits. By eliminating transaction cost barriers between firms, increasing the productivity of investment, and enabling carriers to lower costs through economies of scale, scope, and density, mergers can generate important public benefits such as improved service, more competition, and greater economic efficiency. A merger can strengthen a carrier's finances and operations. To the extent that a merged carrier continues to operate in a competitive environment, its new efficiencies would be shared with shippers and consumers. Both the public and the consolidated carrier can benefit if the carrier is able to increase its marketing opportunities and provide better service. A merger transaction can also improve existing competition or provide new competitive opportunities, and such enhanced competition will be given substantial weight in our analysis. Applicants shall make a good faith effort to calculate the net public benefits their proposed merger would generate, and the Board will carefully evaluate such evidence. To ensure that applicants have no incentive to exaggerate these projected benefits to the public, the Board expects applicants to propose additional measures that the Board might take if the anticipated public benefits fail to materialize in a timely manner. In this regard, the Board recognizes, however, that applicants require the flexibility to adapt to changing marketplace or other circumstances and that it is inevitable that an approved merger may not necessarily be implemented in precisely the manner anticipated in the application. Applicants will be held accountable, however, if they do not act reasonably in light of changing circumstances to achieve promised merger benefits.

(2) Potential harm. The Board recognizes that consolidation can impose costs as well as benefits. It can reduce competition both directly and indirectly in particular markets, including product markets and geographic markets. Consolidation can also threaten essential services and the reliability of the rail network. In analyzing these impacts we must consider, but are not limited by, the policies embodied in the antitrust laws.

(i) Reduction of competition. Although in specific markets railroads operate in a highly competitive environment with vigorous intermodal competition from motor and water carriers, mergers can deprive shippers of effective options. Intramodal competition can be reduced when two carriers serving the same origins or destinations merge. Competition arising from shippers' build-out, transloading, plant siting, and production shifting choices can be eliminated or reduced when two railroads serving overlapping areas merge. Competition in product and geographic markets can also be eliminated or reduced by mergers, including end-to-end mergers. Any railroad combination entails a risk that the merged carrier would acquire and exploit increased market power. Applicants shall propose remedies to mitigate and offset competitive harms. Applicants shall also explain how they would at a minimum preserve competitive and market options such as those involving the use of major existing gateways, build-outs or build-ins, and the opportunity to enter into contracts for one segment of a movement as a means of gaining the right separately to pursue rate relief for the remainder of the movement.

(ii) Harm to essential services. The Board must ensure that essential freight, passenger, and commuter rail services are preserved wherever feasible. An existing service is essential if there is sufficient public need for the service and adequate alternative transportation is not available. The Board's focus is on the ability of the nation's transportation infrastructure to continue to provide and support essential services. Mergers should strengthen, not undermine, the ability of the rail network to advance the nation's economic growth and competitiveness, both domestically and internationally. The Board will consider whether projected shifts in traffic patterns could undermine the ability of the various network links (including Class II and Class III rail carriers and ports) to sustain essential services.

(iii) Transitional service problems. Experience shows that significant service problems can arise during the transitional period when merging firms integrate their operations, even after applicants take extraordinary steps to avoid those disruptions. Because service disruptions harm the public, the Board, in its determination of the public interest, will weigh the likelihood of transitional service problems. In addition, under paragraph (h) of this section, the Board will require applicants to provide a detailed service assurance plan. Applicants also should explain how they would cooperate with other carriers in overcoming serious service disruptions on their lines during the transitional period and afterwards.

(iv) Enhanced competition. To offset harms that would not otherwise be mitigated, applicants should explain how the transaction and conditions they propose would enhance competition.

(d) Conditions. The Board has broad authority under 49 U.S.C. 11324(c) to impose conditions on consolidations, including requiring divestiture of parallel tracks or the granting of trackage rights and access to other facilities. The Board will condition the approval of Class I combinations to mitigate or offset harm to the public interest, and will carefully consider conditions proposed by applicants in this regard. The Board may impose conditions that are operationally feasible and produce net public benefits, but will not impose conditions that undermine or defeat beneficial transactions by creating unreasonable operating, financial, or other problems for the combined carrier. Conditions are generally not appropriate to compensate parties who may be disadvantaged by increased competition. The Board anticipates that mergers of Class I carriers would likely create some anticompetitive effects that would be difficult to mitigate through appropriate conditions, and that transitional service disruptions might temporarily negate any shipper benefits. To offset such potential harms and improve the prospect that their proposal would be found to be in the public interest, applicants should propose conditions that would not simply preserve but also enhance competition. The Board seeks to enhance competition in ways that strengthen and sustain the rail network as a whole (including that portion of the network operated by Class II and III carriers).

(e) Employee protection. The Board is required to provide a fair arrangement for the protection of the rail employees of applicants who are affected by a consolidation. The Board supports early notice and consultation between management and the various unions, leading to negotiated implementing agreements, which the Board strongly favors. Otherwise, the Board respects the sanctity of collective bargaining agreements and will look with extreme disfavor on overrides of collective bargaining agreements except to the Start Printed Page 32585very limited extent necessary to carry out an approved transaction. The Board will review negotiated agreements to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all affected employees. Absent a negotiated agreement, the Board will provide for protection at the level mandated by law (49 U.S.C. 11326(a)), and if unusual circumstances are shown, more stringent protection will be provided to ensure that employees have a fair and equitable arrangement.

(f) Environment and safety. (1) The National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. (NEPA), requires the Board to take environmental considerations into account in railroad consolidation cases. To meet its responsibilities under NEPA and related environmental laws, the Board must consider significant potential beneficial and adverse environmental impacts in deciding whether to approve a transaction as proposed, deny the proposal, or approve it with conditions, including appropriate environmental mitigation conditions addressing concerns raised by the parties, including federal, state, and local government entities. The Board's Section of Environmental Analysis (SEA) ensures that the agency meets its responsibilities under NEPA and the implementing regulations at 49 CFR part 1105 by providing the Board with an independent environmental review of merger proposals. In preparing the necessary environmental documentation, SEA focuses on the potential environmental impacts resulting from merger-related changes in activity levels on existing rail lines and rail facilities. The Board generally will mitigate only those impacts that would result directly from an approved transaction, and will not require mitigation for existing conditions and existing railroad operations.

(2) During the environmental review process, railroad applicants have negotiated agreements with affected communities, including groups of communities and other entities such as state and local agencies. The Board encourages voluntary agreements of this nature because they can be extremely helpful and effective in addressing specific local and regional environmental and safety concerns, including the sharing of costs associated with mitigating merger-related environmental impacts. Generally, these privately negotiated solutions between an applicant railroad and some or all of the communities along particular rail corridors or other appropriate entities are more effective, and in some cases more far-reaching, than any environmental mitigation options the Board could impose unilaterally. Therefore, when such agreements are submitted to it, the Board generally will impose these negotiated agreements as conditions to approved mergers, and these agreements generally will substitute for specific local and site-specific environmental mitigation for a community that otherwise would be imposed. Moreover, to encourage and give effect to negotiated solutions whenever possible, the opportunity to negotiate agreements will remain available throughout the oversight process to replace local and site-specific environmental mitigation imposed by the agency. The Board will require compliance with the terms of all negotiated agreements submitted to it during oversight by imposing appropriate environmental conditions to replace the local and site-specific mitigation previously imposed.

(3) Applicants will be required to work with the Federal Railroad Administration, on a case-by-case basis, to formulate Safety Integration Plans (SIPs) to ensure that safe operations are maintained throughout the merger implementation process. As part of the environmental review process, applicants will be required to submit:

(i) A SIP and

(ii) Evidence about potentially blocked grade crossings as a result of merger-related traffic increases or operational changes.

(g) Oversight. As a condition to its approval of any major transaction, the Board will establish a formal oversight process. For at least the first 5 years following approval, applicants will be required to present evidence to the Board, on no less than an annual basis, to show that the merger conditions imposed by the Board are working as intended, that the applicants are adhering to the various representations they made on the record during the course of their merger proceeding, that no unforeseen harms have arisen that would require the Board to alter existing merger conditions or impose new ones, and that the merger benefit projections accepted by the Board are being realized in a timely fashion. Parties will be given the opportunity to comment on applicants' submissions, and applicants will be given the opportunity to reply to the parties' comments. During the oversight period, the Board will retain jurisdiction to impose any additional conditions it determines are necessary to remedy or offset adverse consequences of the underlying transaction.

(h) Service assurance and operational monitoring. (1) The quality of service is of vital importance. Accordingly, applicants must file, with their initial application and operating plan, a Service Assurance Plan identifying the precise steps they would take to ensure adequate service and to provide for improved service. This plan must include the specific information set forth at § 1180.10 on how shippers, connecting railroads (including Class II and III carriers), and ports across the new system would be affected and benefitted by the proposed consolidation. As part of this plan, applicants will be required to provide service benchmarks, describe the extent to which they have entered into any arrangements with shippers and shipper groups to compensate for service failures, and establish contingency plans that would be available to mitigate any unanticipated service disruption.

(2) The Board will conduct significant post-approval operational monitoring to help ensure that service levels after a merger are reasonable and adequate.

(3) The Board also will require applicants to establish problem resolution teams and specific procedures for problem resolution to ensure that any unanticipated post-merger problems related to service or any other transportation matters, including claims, are promptly addressed. These teams should include representatives of all appropriate employee categories. Also, the Board envisions the establishment of a Service Council made up of shippers, railroads, passenger service representatives, ports, rail labor, and other interested parties to provide an ongoing forum for the discussion of implementation issues.

(4) Loss and damage claims handling. Shippers or shortlines who have freight claims under 49 CFR part 1005 during merger implementation shall file such claims, in writing or electronically, with the merged carrier. The claimant shall provide supporting documentation regarding the effect on the claimant, and the specific damages (in a determinable amount) incurred. Pursuant to 49 CFR part 1005, the merged carrier shall acknowledge each claim within 30 days and successively number each claim. Within 120 days of carrier receipt of the claim, the merged carrier shall respond to each claim by paying, declining, or offering a compromise settlement. The Board will take notice of these claims and their disposition as a matter of oversight. During each annual oversight period, the merged carrier shall report on claims received, their type, and their disposition for each quarterly period covered by oversight. While shippers and shortlines may also contract with the applicants for specific remedies with respect to claims, final Start Printed Page 32586adjudication of contract issues as well as unresolved claims will remain a matter for the courts.

(5) Service failure claims. Applicants must suggest a protocol for handling claims related to failure to provide reasonable service due to merger implementation problems. Commitments to submit all such claims to arbitration will be favored.

(6) Alternative rail service. Where shippers and connecting railroads require relief from extended periods of inadequate service, the procedures at 49 CFR parts 1146 and 1147 are available for the Board to review the documented service levels and to consider shipper proposals for alternative service relief when other avenues of relief have already been explored with the merged carrier in an effort to restore adequate service.

(i) Cumulative impacts and crossover effects. Because there are so few remaining Class I carriers and the railroad industry constitutes a network of competing and complementary components, the Board cannot evaluate the merits of a major transaction in isolation. The Board must also consider the cumulative impacts and crossover effects likely to occur as rival carriers react to the proposed combination. The Board expects applicants to explain how additional Class I mergers would affect the eventual structure of the industry and the public interest. Applicants should generally discuss the likely impact of such future mergers on the anticipated public benefits of their own merger proposal. Applicants will be expected to discuss whether and how the type or extent of any conditions imposed on their proposed merger would have to be altered, or any new conditions imposed, should we approve any future consolidation(s).

(j) Inclusion of other carriers. The Board will consider requiring inclusion of another carrier as a condition to approval only where there is no other reasonable alternative for providing essential services, the facilities fit operationally into the new system, and inclusion can be accomplished without endangering the operational or financial success of the new company.

(k) Transnational and other informational issues. (1) All applicants must submit “full system” competitive analyses and operating plans—incorporating any operations in Canada or Mexico—from which we can determine the competitive, service, employee, safety, and environmental impacts of the prospective operations within the United States, and explain how cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration would be maintained to address potential impacts on operations within the United States of operations or events elsewhere on their systems. All applicants must further provide information concerning any restrictions or preferences under foreign or domestic law and policies that could affect their commercial decisions. Applicants must also address how any ownership restrictions might affect our public interest assessment.

(2) The Board will consult with relevant officials, as appropriate, to ensure that any conditions it imposes on an approved transaction are consistent with the North American Free Trade Agreement and other pertinent international agreements to which the United States is a party. In addition, the Board will cooperate with those Canadian and Mexican agencies charged with approval and oversight of a proposed transnational railroad combination.

(l) National defense. Rail mergers must not detract from the ability of the United States military to rely on rail transportation to meet the nation's defense needs. Applicants must discuss and assess the national defense ramifications of their proposed merger.

(m) Public participation. To ensure a fully developed record on the effects of a proposed railroad consolidation, the Board encourages public participation from federal, state, and local government departments and agencies; affected shippers, carriers, and rail labor; and other interested parties.

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4. Section 1180.3 is amended by revising paragraphs (a) and (b) to read as follows:

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Definitions.

(a) Applicant. The term applicant means the parties initiating a transaction, but does not include a wholly owned direct or indirect subsidiary of an applicant if that subsidiary is not a rail carrier. Parties who are considered applicants, but for whom the information normally required of an applicant need not be submitted, are:

(1) In minor trackage rights applications, the transferor and

(2) In responsive applications, a primary applicant.

(b) Applicant carriers. The term applicant carriers means: any applicant that is a rail carrier; any rail carrier operating in the United States, Canada, and/or Mexico in which an applicant holds a controlling interest; and all other rail carriers involved in the transaction. Because the service provided by these commonly controlled carriers can be an important competitive aspect of the transactions that we approve, applicant carriers are subject to the full range of our conditioning power. Carriers that are involved in an application only by virtue of an existing trackage rights agreement with applicants are not applicant carriers.

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5. Section 1180.4 is amended by revising paragraph (a)(1) to read as follows, by removing paragraph (a)(4), by adding new paragraphs (b)(4) and (c)(6)(vi) to read as follows, and by revising paragraphs (d), (e)(2), (e)(3), and (f)(2) to read as follows:

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Procedures.

(a) * * * (1) The original and 25 copies of all documents shall be filed in major proceedings. The original and 10 copies shall be filed in significant and minor proceedings.

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(b) * * *

(4) Prefiling notification. When filing the notice of intent required by paragraph (b)(1) of this section, applicants also must file:

(i) A proposed procedural schedule. In any proceeding involving either a major transaction or a significant transaction, the Board will publish a Federal Register notice soliciting comments on the proposed procedural schedule, and will, after review of any comments filed in response, issue a procedural schedule governing the course of the proceeding.

(ii) A proposed draft protective order. The Board will issue, in each proceeding in which such an order is requested, an appropriate protective order.

(iii) A statement of waybill availability for major transactions. Applicants must indicate, as soon as practicable after the issuance of a protective order, that they will make their 100% traffic tapes available (subject to the terms of the protective order) to any interested party on written request. The applicants may require that, if the requesting party is itself a railroad, applicants will make their 100% traffic tapes available to that party only if it agrees, in its written request, to make its own 100% traffic tapes available to applicants (subject to the terms of the protective order) when it receives access to applicants' tapes.

(iv) Applicants may also propose the use of a voting trust at this stage, or at a later stage, if that becomes necessary. In each proceeding involving a major transaction, applicants contemplating the use of a voting trust must explain how the trust would insulate them from an unlawful control violation and why their proposed use of the trust, in the Start Printed Page 32587context of their impending control application, would be consistent with the public interest. Following a brief period of public comment and replies by applicants, the Board will issue a decision determining whether applicants may establish and use the trust.

(c) * * *

(6) * * *

(vi) The information and data required of any applicant may be consolidated with the information and data required of the affiliated applicant carriers.

(d) Responsive applications. (1) No responsive applications shall be permitted to minor transactions.

(2) An inconsistent application will be classified as a major, significant, or minor transaction as provided in § 1180.2(a) through (c). The fee for an inconsistent application will be the fee for the type of transaction involved. See 49 CFR 1002.2(f)(38) through (41). The fee for any other type of responsive application is the fee for the particular type of proceeding set forth in 49 CFR 1002.2(f).

(3) Each responsive application filed and accepted for consideration will automatically be consolidated with the primary application for consideration.

(e) * * *

(2) The evidentiary proceeding will be completed:

(i) Within 1 year after the primary application is accepted for a major transaction;

(ii) Within 180 days for a significant transaction; and

(iii) Within 105 days for a minor transaction.

(3) A final decision on the primary application and on all consolidated cases will be issued:

(i) Within 90 days after the conclusion of the evidentiary proceeding for a major transaction;

(ii) Within 90 days for a significant transaction; and

(iii) Within 45 days for a minor transaction.

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(f) * * *

(2) Except as otherwise provided in the procedural schedule adopted by the Board in any particular proceeding, petitions for waiver or clarification must be filed at least 45 days before the application is filed.

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6. Section 1180.6 is amended by revising paragraphs (b)(1), (b)(2), (b)(3), (b)(4), (b)(6), and (b)(8) to read as follows, and by adding new paragraphs (b)(9), (b)(10), (b)(11), (b)(12), and (b)(13) to read as follows:

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Supporting information.
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(b) * * *

(1) Form 10-K (exhibit 6). Submit: The most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under 17 CFR 249.310 made within the year prior to the filing of the application by each applicant or by any entity that is in control of an applicant. These shall not be incorporated by reference, and shall be updated with any Form 10-K subsequently filed with the SEC during the pendency of the proceeding.

(2) Form S-4 (exhibit 7). Submit: The most recent filing with the SEC under 17 CFR 239.25 made within the year prior to the filing of the application by each applicant or by any entity that is in control of an applicant. These shall not be incorporated by reference, and shall be updated with any Form S-4 subsequently filed with the SEC during the pendency of the proceeding.

(3) Change in control (exhibit 8). If an applicant carrier submits an annual report Form R-1, indicate any change in ownership or control of that applicant carrier not indicated in its most recent Form R-1, and provide a list of the principal six officers of that applicant carrier and of any related applicant, and also of their majority-owned rail carrier subsidiaries. If any applicant carrier does not submit an annual report Form R-1, list all officers of that applicant carrier, and identify the person(s) or entity/entities in control of that applicant carrier and all owners of 10% or more of the equity of that applicant carrier.

(4) Annual reports (exhibit 9). Submit: The two most recent annual reports to stockholders by each applicant, or by any entity that is in control of an applicant, made within 2 years of the date of filing of the application. These shall not be incorporated by reference, and shall be updated with any annual or quarterly report to stockholders issued during the pendency of the proceeding.

* * * * *

(6) Corporate chart (exhibit 11). Submit a corporate chart indicating all relationships between applicant carriers and all affiliates and subsidiaries and also companies controlling applicant carriers directly, indirectly or through another entity (with each chart indicating the percentage ownership of every company on the chart by any other company on the chart). For each company: include a statement indicating whether that company is a noncarrier or a carrier; and identify every officer and/or director of that company who is also an officer and/or director of any other company that is part of a different corporate family that includes a rail carrier. Such information may be referenced through notes to the chart.

* * * * *

(8) Intercorporate or financial relationships. Indicate whether there are any direct or indirect intercorporate or financial relationships at the time the application is filed, not disclosed elsewhere in the application, through holding companies, ownership of securities, or otherwise, in which applicants or their affiliates own or control more than 5% of the stock of a non-affiliated carrier, including those relationships in which a group affiliated with applicants owns more than 5% of the stock of such a carrier. Indicate the nature and extent of any such relationships, and, if an applicant owns securities of a carrier subject to 49 U.S.C. Subtitle IV, provide the carrier's name, a description of securities, the par value of each class of securities held, and the applicant's percentage of total ownership. For purposes of this paragraph, “affiliates” has the same meaning as “affiliated companies” in Definition 5 of the Uniform System of Accounts (49 CFR part 1201, subpart A).

(9) Employee impact exhibit. The effect of the proposed transaction upon applicant carriers' employees (by class or craft), the geographic points where the impacts would occur, the time frame of the impacts (for at least 3 years after consolidation), and whether any employee protection agreements have been reached. This information (except with respect to employee protection agreements) may be set forth in the following format:

Effects on Applicant Carriers' Employees

Current Location
Jobs Classification
Jobs Transferred to
Jobs Abolished
Jobs Created
Year

(10) Conditions to mitigate and offset merger-related harms. Applicants are expected to propose measures to mitigate and offset merger-related harms. These conditions should not simply preserve, but also enhance, competition.

(i) Applicants must explain how they would preserve competitive options for shippers and for Class II and III rail carriers. At a minimum, applicants must explain how they would preserve the use of major existing gateways, the potential for build-outs or build-ins, and Start Printed Page 32588the opportunity to enter into contracts for one segment of a movement as a means of gaining the right separately to pursue rate relief for the remainder of the movement.

(ii) Applicants should explain how the transaction and conditions they propose would enhance competition and improve service.

(11) Calculating public benefits. Applicants must enumerate and, where possible, quantify the net public benefits their merger would generate (if approved). In making this estimate, applicants should identify the benefits that would arise from service improvements, enhanced competition, cost savings, and other merger-related public interest benefits, and should discuss whether the particular benefits they are relying upon could be achieved short of merger. Applicants must also identify, discuss, and, where possible, quantify the likely negative effects approval would entail, such as losses of competition, potential for service disruption, and other merger-related harms. In addition, applicants must suggest additional measures that the Board might take if it approves the application and the anticipated public benefits identified by applicants fail to materialize in a timely manner.

(12) Downstream merger applications. (i) Applicants should anticipate whether additional Class I mergers are likely to be proposed in response to their own proposal and explain how, taken together, these mergers, if approved, could affect the eventual structure of the industry and the public interest.

(ii) Applicants are expected to discuss whether any conditions imposed on an approval of their proposed merger would have to be altered, or any new conditions imposed, if the Board should approve additional future rail mergers.

(13) Purpose of the proposed transaction. The purpose sought to be accomplished by the proposed transaction, such as improving service, enhancing competition, strengthening the nation's transportation infrastructure, creating operating economies, and ensuring financial viability.

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7. Section 1180.7 is revised to read as follows:

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Market analyses.

(a) For major and significant transactions, applicants shall submit impact analyses (exhibit 12) describing the impacts of the proposed transaction—both adverse and beneficial—on inter-and intramodal competition with respect to freight surface transportation in the regions affected and on the provision of essential services by applicants and other carriers. An impact analysis should include underlying data, a study of the implications of those data, and a description of the resulting likely effects of the proposed transaction on the transportation alternatives that would be available to the shipping public. Each aspect of the analysis should specifically address significant impacts as they relate to the applicable statutory criteria (49 U.S.C. 11324(b) or (d)), essential services, and competition. Applicants must identify and address relevant markets and issues, and provide additional information as requested by the Board on markets and issues that warrant further study. Applicants (and any other party submitting analyses) must demonstrate both the relevance of the markets and issues analyzed and the validity of their methodology. All underlying assumptions must be clearly stated. Analyses should reflect the consolidated company's marketing plan and existing and potential competitive alternatives (inter- as well as intramodal). They can address: city pairs, interregional movements, movements through a point, or other factors; a particular commodity, group of commodities, or other commodity factor that would be significantly affected by the transaction; or other effects of the transaction (such as on a particular type of service offered).

(b) For major transactions, applicants shall submit “full system” impact analyses (incorporating any operations in Canada or Mexico) from which they must demonstrate the impacts of the transaction—both adverse and beneficial—on competition within regions of the United States and this nation as a whole (including inter- and intramodal competition, product competition, and geographic competition) and the provision of essential services (including freight, passenger, and commuter) by applicants and other network links (including Class II and Class III rail carriers and ports). Applicants' impact analyses must at least provide the following types of information:

(1) The anticipated effects of the transaction on traffic patterns, market concentrations, and/or transportation alternatives available to the shipping public. Consistent with § 1180.6(b)(10), these would incorporate a detailed examination of any competition-enhancing aspects of the transaction and of the specific measures proposed by applicants to preserve existing levels of competition and essential services;

(2) Actual and projected market shares of originated and terminated traffic by railroad for each major point on the combined system. Applicants may define points as individual stations or as larger areas (such as Bureau of Economic Analysis statistical areas or U.S. Department of Agriculture Crop Reporting Districts) as relevant and indicate the extent of switching access and availability of terminal belt railroads. Applicants should list points where the number of serving railroads would drop from two to one and from three to two, respectively, as a result of the proposed transaction (both before and after applying proposed remedies for competitive harm);

(3) Actual and projected market shares of revenues and traffic volumes for major interregional or corridor flows by major commodity group. Origin/destination areas should be defined at relevant levels of aggregation for the commodity group in question. The data should be broken down by mode and (for the railroad portion) by single-line and interline routings (showing gateways used);

(4) For each major commodity group, an analysis of traffic flows indicating patterns of geographic competition or product competition across different railroad systems, showing actual and projected revenues and traffic volumes;

(5) Maps and other graphic displays where helpful in illustrating the analyses in this section;

(6) An explicit delineation of the projected impacts of the transaction on the ability of various network links (including Class II and Class III rail carriers and ports) to participate in the competitive process and to sustain essential services; and

(7) Supporting data for the analyses in this section, such as the basis for projections of changes in traffic patterns, including shipper surveys and econometric or other statistical analyses. If not made part of the application, applicants shall make these data available in a repository for inspection by other parties or otherwise supply these data on request, for example, electronically. Access to confidential information will be subject to protective order. For information drawn from publicly available published sources, detailed citations will suffice.

(8) If necessary, an explanation as to how the lack of reliable and consistent data has limited applicants' ability to satisfy any of the requirements in this paragraph (b).

(c) For significant transactions, specific regulations on impact analyses are not provided so that the parties will have the greatest leeway to develop the Start Printed Page 32589best evidence on the impacts of each individual transaction. As a general guideline, applicants shall provide supporting data that may (but need not) include: current and projected traffic flows; data underlying sales forecasts or marketing goals; interchange data; market share analysis; and/or shipper surveys. It is important to note that these types of studies are neither limiting nor all-inclusive. The parties must provide supporting data, but are free to choose the type(s) and format. If not made part of the application, applicants shall make these data available in a repository for inspection by other parties or otherwise supply these data on request, for example, electronically. Access to confidential information will be subject to protective order. For information drawn from publicly available published sources, detailed citations will suffice.

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8. Section 1180.8 is amended by redesignating paragraphs (a) and (b) as paragraphs (b) and (c), respectively, and by adding a new paragraph (a) to read as follows:

End Amendment Part
Operational data.

(a) Applications for major transactions must include a full-system operating plan—incorporating any prospective operations in Canada and Mexico—from which they must demonstrate how the proposed transaction would affect operations within regions of the United States and on a nationwide basis. As part of the environmental review process, applicants shall submit:

(1) A Safety Integration Plan, prepared in consultation with the Federal Railroad Administration, to ensure that safe operations would be maintained throughout the merger implementation process.

(2) Information on what measures they plan to take to address potentially blocked crossings as a result of merger-related changes in operations or increases in rail traffic.

* * * * *
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9. A new § 1180.10 is added to subpart A to read as follows:

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Service assurance plans.

For major transactions: Applicants must submit a Service Assurance Plan, which, in concert with the operating plan requirements, identifies the precise steps to be taken by applicants to ensure that projected service levels would be attainable and that key elements of the operating plan would improve service. The plan shall describe with reasonable precision how operating plan efficiencies would translate into present and future benefits for the shipping public. The plan must also describe any potential area of service degradation that might result due to operational changes and how instances of degraded service might be mitigated. Like the Operating Plan on which it is based, the Service Assurance Plan must be a full-system plan encompassing:

(a) Integration of operations. Based on the operating plan, and using appropriate benchmarks, applicants must develop a Service Assurance Plan describing how the proposed transaction would result in improved service levels and how and where service might be degraded. This description should be a precise route level review, but not a shipper-by-shipper review. Nonetheless, the plan should be sufficient for individual shippers to evaluate the projected improvements and changes, and respond to the potential areas of service degradation for their customary traffic routings. The plan should inform Class II and III railroads and other connecting railroads of the operational changes or changes in service terms that might affect their operations, including operations involving major gateways.

(b) Coordination of freight and passenger operations. If Amtrak or commuter services are operated over the lines of applicant carriers, applicants must describe definitively how they would continue to facilitate these operations so as to fulfill existing performance agreements for those services. Whether or not the passenger services are operated over lines of applicants or applicants' operations are on the lines of passenger agencies, applicants must establish operating protocols ensuring effective communications with Amtrak and/or regional rail passenger operators to minimize any potential transaction-related negative impacts.

(c) Yard and terminal operations. The operational fluidity of yards and terminals is key to the successful implementation of a transaction and effective service to shippers. Applicants must describe how the operations of principal classification yards and major terminals would be changed or revised and how these revisions would affect service to customers. As part of this analysis, applicants must furnish dwell time benchmarks for each facility described in this paragraph, and estimate what the expected dwell time would be after the revised operations are implemented. Also required will be a discussion of on-time performance for the principal yards and terminals in the same terms as required for dwell time.

(d) Infrastructure improvements. Applicants must identify potential infrastructure impediments (using volume/capacity line and terminal forecasts), formulate solutions to those impediments, and develop time frames for resolution. Applicants must also develop a capital improvement plan (to support the operating plan) for timely funding and completion of the improvements critical to transition of operations. They should also describe improvements related to future growth, and indicate the relationship of the improvements to service delivery.

(e) Information technology systems. Because the accurate and timely integration of applicants' information systems is vitally important to service, applicants must identify the process to be used for systems integration and training of involved personnel. This must include identification of the principal operations-related systems, operating areas affected, implementation schedules, the realtime operations data used to test the systems, and pre-implementation training requirements needed to achieve completion dates. If such systems will not be integrated and on line prior to implementation of the transaction, applicants must describe the interim systems to be used and the adequacy of those systems to ensure service delivery.

(f) Customer service. To achieve and maintain customer confidence in the transaction and to ensure the successful integration and consolidation of existing customer service functions, applicants must identify their plans for the staffing and training of personnel within or supporting the customer service centers. This discussion must include specific information on the planned steps to familiarize customers with any new processes and procedures that they may encounter in using the consolidated systems and/or changes in contact locations, telephone numbers, or communication mode.

(g) Labor. Applicants must furnish a plan for reaching necessary labor implementing agreements. Applicants must also provide evidence that sufficient qualified employees would be available at the proper locations to effect implementation.

(h) Training. Applicants must establish a plan for providing necessary training to employees involved with operations, train and engine service, operating rules, dispatching, payroll and timekeeping, field data entry, safety and hazardous material compliance, and contractor support functions (e.g., crew van service), as well as training for other employees in functions that would be affected by the acquisition.Start Printed Page 32590

(i) Contingency plans for merger-related service disruptions. To address potential disruptions of service that could occur, applicants must establish contingency plans. Those plans, based upon available resources and traffic flows and density, must identify potential areas of disruption and the risk of occurrence. Applicants must provide evidence that contingency plans would be in place to promptly restore adequate service levels. Applicants must also provide for the establishment of problem resolution teams and describe the specific procedures to be utilized for problem resolution.

(j) Timetable. Applicants must identify all major functional or system changes/consolidations that would occur and the time line for successful completion.

(k) Benchmarking. Specific benchmarking requirements may vary with the transaction. The minimum for benchmarking will be the 12 monthly periods immediately preceding the filing date of the notice of intent to file the application. Benchmarking is intended to provide an historic monthly baseline against which actual post-transaction levels of performance can be measured. Benchmarking data should be sufficiently detailed and encompassing to give a meaningful picture of operational performance for the newly merged system. Applicants will report in a matrix structure giving the historic monthly (benchmark) data and provide for the reporting of actual monthly data during the monitoring period. It is important that data reflect uniformly constructed measures of historic and post-transaction operations. Minimum benchmark data include:

(1) Corridor performance benchmarking. Benchmarks will consist of route level performance information including flow data for traffic moving on the applicants' systems. These data will encompass flows to and from major points. A major point could be a Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) statistical area, or it can be a railroad-created point based on an operational grouping of stations or interchanges, or it could be another similar construction. It will be necessary for applicants to define traffic points used to establish benchmarks for purposes of monitoring. A sufficient number of corridor flows must be reported so as to fully represent system flows, including interchanges with short lines and other Class I's, and internal traffic of the respective applicants before the transaction. In addition to identifying traffic flows by areas, they also must be identified by commodity sector (for example, merchandise, intermodal, automotive, unit coal, unit grain etc.). Data for each flow must include: traffic volume in carloads (units), miles (area to area), and elapsed time in hours. Only loaded traffic need be included.

(2) Yard and terminal benchmarking.

(i) Terminal dwell. Terminal dwell for major yards will be calculated in hours for cars handled, not including run-through and bypass trains or maintenance of way and bad order cars.

(ii) On time originations by major yard. On time originations are based on the departure of scheduled trains originating at a particular yard.

(3) System benchmarking.

(i) Cars on line.

(ii) Average train velocity, by train type.

(iii) Locomotive fleet size and applicable bad order ratios.

(iv) Passenger train performance for commuter and intercity passenger services.

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10. A new § 1180.11 is added to subpart A to read as follows:

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Transnational and other informational requirements.

(a) For applicants whose systems include operations in Canada or Mexico, applicants must explain how cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration would be maintained to address potential impacts on operations within the United States of operations or events elsewhere on their systems.

(b) All applicants must assess whether any restrictions or preferences under foreign or domestic law or policies could affect their commercial decisions, and discuss any ownership restrictions applicable to them.

End Supplemental Information

[FR Doc. 01-14984 Filed 6-14-01; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4915-00-P