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Rail Customer and Public Assistance

The Surface Transportation Board’s Rail Customer and Public Assistance Program (RCPA) solves problems in ways ranging from a simple answer to a telephone inquiry to lengthy informal mediation efforts.  Topics handled by RCPA include questions on rates and other charges, railroad-car supply and service issues, claims for damage, interchange issues, employee complaints, and community concerns.  The staff also explains the Board’s jurisdiction and procedures and informally answers questions based on the staff’s knowledge and experience.

Program staffers work to find solutions that are satisfactory to both the railroad and the shipper.  Because it is an informal program, staff cannot order a specific resolution or provide official opinions or rulings.  And if the process does not work for one of the parties, either party always has the right to bring a formal dispute before the Surface Transportation Board. Your identity will not be revealed to the railroad or other party without your consent.

The Rail Customer and Public Assistance Program began in 2000 and has grown dramatically since, as both shippers and railroads recognized the value of resolving disputes before they give rise to formal complaints and other legal challenges.  The program staff, including attorneys and former employees of shippers and railroads, bring to the table decades of experience in rail shipping, operations, marketing, analysis, tariffs, and rates in seeking common ground and resolving disputes, allowing both sides to walk away satisfied.

If you would like to submit an issue or question for the Rail Customer and Public Assistance program, staff can be contacted by calling (866) 254-1792 (toll-free) or 202-245-0238, or by emailing rcpa@stb.gov.  Parties can also submit an inquiry using the Rail Customer and Public Assistance form.  (Click here for a copy of the RCPA brochure for the sight-impaired.)


The Rail Customer and Public Assistance program tracks the number of inquiries and informal complaints it receives on a quarterly basis.  The data on the number of inquiries and informal complaints (2008-2019), broken down by topic and region, is available below.  Data for 2020 and later are located in the Formal and Informal Service Complain Reports of our quarterly STB Reauthorization Act Reports.