Surface Transportation Board to hear from shippers on BNSF-Berkshire deal

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Steve Smedley
WASHINGTON — Bowing to pressure from some rail shippers, the Surface Transportation Board will hold hearings on Berkshire Hathaway’s 2010 acquisition of BNSF Railway. At issue is whether Berkshire is recouping part of the $43 billion it paid for BNSF by charging customers higher rates, as BNSF critics claim.
The board, which has the power to overturn rates it deems unreasonable upon a shipper’s challenge, uses a formula called the Uniform Rail Costing System to determine whether or not a rate is reasonable. The Western Coal Traffic League, which represents a group of critical BNSF shippers, claims the Berkshire deal drove up the railroad’s net investment base by $8.1 billion. The group is urging the board to make a corresponding adjustment to the costing system so that shippers aren’t forced to bear the cost.
The board will hold the hearing March 22.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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