BNSF train

Nearly 30 lawsuits have been filed in the US this week by shippers alleging that four US intermodal operators, BNSF, Norfolk Southern, Union Pacific and CSX, coordinated fuel surcharges between 2003 and 2008. According to this report from Freightwaves, a judgment in Washington’s US Court of Appeals in August held that a previous class action from shippers would not be allowed to proceed, forcing shippers to issue claims individually. They include blue-chip carmakers such as Kia and Hyundai. “Defendants used ‘rate-based’ fuel surcharges – ie, surcharges that use a percentage applied to the base rate for a shipment – as a means to impose across-the-board rate increases on rail freight shipments, a result that would have been prohibitively difficult to achieve on a contract-by-contract basis.”

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