22 May 2017
Commodities are sent to destinations for unloading repeatedly, usually with the emptied car returning to the origin. The return may occur within days, and other times, long afterward. Normally, these empty cars will return free of charge. However, exceptions do occur, and when they do, should this movement be chargeable?
All Class I’s and various other railroads have rules, both varied and complex, governing empty car movement contained within the RIC 6007 and in their own publications. The timeframe provided for free returns differs among carriers, usually being between 150 and 180 days. Select carriers provide rules that cover an empty return move to an alternate location, or movement into and out of repair and/or cleaning facilities. Of course, shippers can also develop contracts that better fit their specific needs.
It should also be noted that automated payment systems and rate engines do not handle exceptions well and can easily rate these empty movements in error, incurring unnecessary costs. AMTR’s expert auditors are well-versed in these rules and are able to devote the time and research to empty car movements.