Association Of American Railroads v. United States Department Of Transportation

721 F.3d 666 (2013)


Congress passed the Rail Passenger Service Act. It created the for-profit passenger rail corporation now known as Amtrak. If railroad companies consented to certain conditions, such as permitting Amtrak to use their tracks and other facilities, they could shed their cumbersome common carrier obligation to offer intercity passenger service. Amtrak negotiates these arrangements with individual railroads, the terms of which are enshrined in Operating Agreements. Congress prescribed that absent an emergency, Amtrak's passenger rail 'has preference over freight transportation in using a rail line, junction, or crossing.' This issue prompted passage of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA). PRIIA directs the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Amtrak to 'jointly . . . develop new or improve existing metrics and minimum standards for measuring the performance and service quality of intercity passenger train operations, including cost recovery, on-time performance and minutes of delay, ridership, onboard services, stations, facilities, equipment, and other services.' If Amtrak and the FRA disagree about the composition of these 'metrics and standards,' an arbitrator would be appointed by the Board to assist the parties in resolving their disputes through binding arbitration. FRA and Amtrak jointly drafted proposed metrics and standards, which they submitted to public comment. The proposal attracted severe criticism. P, among others, derided these metrics as 'unrealistic' and worried that certain aspects would create 'an excessive administrative and financial burden.' The FRA responded, and a final version of the metrics and standards took effect in May 2010. P filed suit asking the district court to declare §207 of the PRIIA unconstitutional and to vacate the promulgated metrics and standards in that §207 unconstitutionally delegates to Amtrak the authority to regulate other private entities; and that empowering Amtrak to regulate its competitors violates the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause. The court granted summary judgment to D. P appealed.