Digest: STB's Oberman will recuse himself from Metra-UP dispute

News Wire Digest for July 24: Metra tells STB it will oppose UP's motion to delay proceedings; Amtrak adds teeth to face mask requirement
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STB Vice Chairman Martin Oberman
TRAINS: David Lassen

Friday morning rail news:

STB's Oberman won't participate in Metra-UP proceedings

Surface Transportation Board Vice Chairman Martin Oberman, a former Metra board chairman, announced he will recuse himself from the STB’s proceedings regarding Metra’s request for a preliminary injunction and ruling in its ongoing dispute with Union Pacific [See “Metra asks STB for injunction against Union Pacific to maintain commuter service,” Trains News Wire, July 21, 2020]. With the STB board operating with just three members, this raises the possibility of a deadlock in decision-making

Metra will oppose UP's motion to delay STB action
Metra’s attorney filed a short letter with the Surface Transportation Board informing the agency it would “reply promptly” to Union Pacific’s request that the STB hold in abeyance its proceedings on the Metra-UP dispute [see “UP says it will lose millions operating trains for Metra,” Trains News Wire, July 22, 2020]. The letter from attorney Charles A. Spitulnik said the commuter railroad will ask the STB to deny UP’s motion “in light of the emergency circumstances Metra has outlined” in its filings earlier this week. Noting that a letter accompanying UP’s request said the freight railroad would not respond to Metra’s earlier filings unless the STB denies its motion, the letter included a pointed barb that Metra’s plan to respond is “unlike UP, which believes it can adhere to its own set of rules regarding replies to matters before the Board.”

Amtrak could ban passengers for failure to wear masks
Amtrak has added an enforcement provision to its face mask requirement. USA Today reports the company is now saying as part of the coronavirus update on its website that it “reserves the right to remove customers or ban them from future travel in the event of noncompliance with Amtrak’s face covering policy.” The passenger railroad has required masks for passengers and employees since May. Airlines have recently added similar provisions.



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