Our team regularly provides legal counsel on daily operational issues common to freight rail operators. We help clients draft and negotiate all types of contracts and agreements, including rail transportation contracts, interchange agreements, haulage agreements, run-through agreements, joint facility agreements, terminal services agreements, equipment contracts, locomotive purchase agreements, container purchase agreements, drayage agreements, intermodal agreements (domestic and international), leases and easements, lift services agreements, equipment maintenance and repair agreements, and bilateral agreements between rail carriers involving car hire, UMLER-registered equipment and Circular OT-10 issues.
We frequently assist clients with matters involving the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Interchange Rules and the Uniform Intermodal Interchange and Facilities Access Agreement (UIIA) concerning the interchange and use of intermodal equipment.
In addition, we regularly advise clients on the terms and conditions of their respective rules circulars, including limitation of liability language in the wake of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, cross-border transactions, on-dock rail operations and ongoing regulatory matters.
Members of our team have extensive experience handling transactional matters on behalf of freight rail clients. Our recent experience includes representing a Class 1 railroad in its negotiation of rail transportation contracts governing coal, metals, crude oil, intermodal and other products, as well as two major commuter rail transactions involving complex issues related to the sale of land, track and improvements to a state-owned agency for the purpose of developing or enlarging commuter rail operations, subject to a retained freight easement to provide common carrier service, including the transactional, real estate, environmental, labor and regulatory issues associated with those transactions.
We also have extensive experience in railroad-focused real estate issues, including easements, crossing agreements, railbanking matters, valuation map issues, railroad property title matters and condemnation and preemption issues.
In addition, we have represented publicly traded corporations in the sale of numerous short line railroads and have represented Class 1 and Class 2 railroads with a wide variety of vendor contracts, including those related to "green locomotive" initiatives.
Our team is experienced in legal issues related to the cross-border carriage of freight. We regularly assist clients with customs issues, including the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) and other practical and legal issues arising out of trade with Canada and Mexico.
Freight rail operators are subject to myriad regulations imposed by the U.S. government and its agencies. These regulations can be complex, and experienced legal counsel is vital to avoid possible missteps. Our team frequently provides advice on railroad regulatory matters, including analysis of the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) rulemaking concerning Positive Train Control (PTC), a safety-oriented regulation of the movement of trains that will affect a large proportion of the rail industry.
In addition, we regularly advise on Surface Transportation Board (STB) regulatory proceedings and filings concerning trackage rights, abandonment, discontinuance, contract carriage, preemption, demurrage, competition, re-regulation and other areas affecting railroad operations.
We also have experience representing Class 1 railroads on responses to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) questionnaire on the liability and indemnity agreements in use with shared assets and commuter/Amtrak/freight rail corridors.
A member of our Transportation Team is a recent former general counsel of the NTSB who supported every NTSB rail investigation over the course of his five-year tenure with the agency. He has extensive knowledge of the party and investigative processes, from both the railroad and the NTSB point of view.
As with all business operations, disputes are a common challenge facing freight rail operators. Our team includes attorneys who focus their practices on litigation and other methods of dispute resolution, including commercial arbitration. Because dispute resolution can be costly and time consuming, we seek to resolve disputes at the earliest possible stage of the conflict. However, if litigation or arbitration cannot be avoided or is determined to be the best course of action, we are prepared to aggressively defend the interests of our clients.
We have represented rail clients in a wide range of complex litigation and arbitration matters, including:
Our freight transportation attorneys, including some previously employed by railroads, have a thorough understanding of the industry and place a heavy emphasis on providing client-focused counsel to this vital transportation component of our economy. We have seconded firm lawyers to work in house at a Class 1 railroad to provide assistance on a broad range of transportation matters. This intense focus on client service has received national recognition, including one of our team members earning the BTI Client Service All-Star award.
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