Digest: VIA Rail to temporary lay off some management, professional employees

News Wire Digest for Aug. 4: Reading & Northern management supports area community; STB issues Final Rule on market dominance
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Tuesday morning rail news in brief:

Less travel, fewer employees
VIA Rail Canada will temporarily lay off some 30 management and professional employees, effective Aug. 14 in response to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on rail travel, the passenger carrier has announced. This measure is in addition to retirements and vacant positions that will not be filled, which brings the total of affected positions to 80. Even though ridership is returning, "it becomes imperative that measures be taken to diligently reduce the financial impact of the current crisis on the organization," VIA's statement reads.

Railroad management supports Pennsylvania community
Reading & Northern Owner and CEO Andy Muller Jr. has donated $10,000 to the borough of Tamaqua, Pa., to share with local charities, according to a railroad announcement. The gift follows another in May 2020 allocated to Tamaqua’s first responders. The railroad also funded new passenger platforms in the borough in lieu of local funding being used during the 2020 pandemic and recession.

STB issues final rule on market dominance
The Surface Transportation Board has announced the adoption of a final rule to establish a streamlined approach for pleading market dominance in rate reasonableness proceedings. The final rule provides an option for simplifying the market dominance inquiry that otherwise can be costly and time-consuming, especially in smaller cases. The final rule sets forth the following seven factors that a complainant must demonstrate: the movement has a revenue-to-variable cost ratio of 180% or greater; the movement would exceed 500 highway miles between origin and destination; there is no intramodal competition from other railroads; there is no barge competition; there is no pipeline competition; the complainant has used trucks for 10% or less of its volume (by tonnage) subject to the rate at issue over a five-year period; and the complainant has no practical build-out alternative (regardless of transportation mode) due to physical, regulatory, financial, or other issues (or combination of issues). The final rule will be effective on Sept. 5, 2020 (30 days from publication).
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