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Mayer Brown’s rail transport team has substantial experience in a wide range of legal disciplines that meet today’s global railway industry needs.

Our in-depth understanding of the rail sector has been developed through working on high-profile rail infrastructure projects throughout the world, and handling essential construction, regulatory, transactional and dispute resolution concerns. We are well versed in dealing with the complex regulatory, business and contractual interaction that shapes railway construction, acquisitions, operations, services, and pricing. We are able to assist:

  • Railway companies
  • Railway operators
  • Rail consultants
  • Contractors
  • Suppliers of railway operational systems
  • Manufacturers of rolling stock.

As an international law firm, we draw on the capabilities of our colleagues in construction, general business law and litigation disciplines, as well as industry-specific practitioners skilled in dealing with rail and intermodal issues. Our group has worked on some of the largest and most complex rail projects in the world. We have also handled major rail mergers and consolidations, line sales, competitive access disputes, abandonment proceedings, rail service disputes, rail rate cases, and jurisdictional conflicts between local and national regulatory regimes. Group members in all our global offices share their international experience through precedent documentation, regular briefings on industry developments, and sector-specific initiatives. We leverage these strengths for the benefit of our clients, working in collaboration with them to deliver successful rail initiatives.

Major Infrastructure Projects
Our lawyers have facilitated delivery of multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects worldwide, handling procurement, financing, design and construction issues in such undertakings as the Panama Canal widening project, the West Rail passenger line project in Hong Kong, and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Project (one of the largest rail infrastructure initiatives in Europe in recent years). In Asia, we have worked with the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC, now part of MTR Corporation Limited) on a number of the most complicated rail infrastructure projects in the region, with advice on the planning, financing, design and construction of passenger lines, tunnels, stations and subways.

In addition to the rail-specific issues in these projects, we are prepared to address all elements of major infrastructure developments. We have experience in everything from the construction of related office and mixed-use facilities to the integration of intermodal light rail transport links with adjoining stations and track (both above and below ground). And our project development skills are essential in dealing with rail authorities, whether London Underground Limited (LUL) and Network Rail in the UK, the Railway Inspectorate of the Hong Kong Government, or the Surface Transportation Board in the United States.

Rail Contracting
Few global law firms surpass our experience at dealing with all contractual aspects of rail construction, from drafting construction and equipment supply agreements to resolving disputes. We have advised on the construction of new rail lines, rail build-ins, line relocations, rail connections, rail crossings, and line upgrades and are experienced with every type of ownership and operating rights scenario, regulatory approval proceeding, and environmental review requirement. Our lawyers advise on:

  • Risks arising out of construction contracts and entrustment agreements for rail projects
  • Regulatory approval of rail line construction, trackage rights, and crossings
  • The interplay between federal, state, and local permitting requirements
  • Drafting tender documents for civil, building and railway operational systems contracts (including conditions of tender and contract, forms of bonds, guarantees and warranties)
  • Claims for variations, extensions of time and recovery of prolongation costs
  • Litigation, arbitration and ADR proceedings on rail related contracts.

Business Transactions
Our rail team has handled the transactional details on a range of rail projects throughout the world, including front-end procurement, securitizations, project financings, merger and acquisition transactions and rail infrastructure leasing transactions. We also regularly advise clients on the negotiation of memoranda of understanding (MOUs) and other contractual arrangements with potential joint venture and delivery partners. Further, we advise railways on the full gamut of their dealings with shippers and other rail operators—including rate and service contracts and tariffs, common carrier obligations, equipment requirements, car hire and demurrage, and interchange requirements and commitments. A special focus of our work is merger rules and the theory and conduct of merger proceedings, which today involve not only transportation and competition issues but also significant environmental and social issues. In addition to mergers and acquisitions, we have been extensively involved in spin-offs of rail lines and structuring sale and lease transactions that receive regulatory approval.

Regulatory Concerns
We have represented most of the major rail operators in the United States and Canada, as well as the Association of American Railroads, in virtually every major regulatory development in the industry in the United States since the passage of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980. That includes assistance to clients concerning route and rate regulation, construction and abandonment approvals, and service obligations. We are knowledgeable not only in the regulatory parameters of competitive access, but also in the application of antitrust principles (including exclusive dealing, tying, and leveraging) to access claims. We have handled every aspect of rail line discontinuances and abandonments, counseled extensively on the scope of common carrier obligations, and ensured compliance with rate reasonableness guidelines.

Dispute Resolution
Our global project development experience in the rail industry has given us extensive exposure to dispute resolution proceedings under UNCITRAL rules in forums ranging from the International Court of Arbitration (ICC) to the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA). Our lawyers frequently act in these forums to settle com­mercial claims arising under construction, consultancy and equipment supply contracts. We have also litigated in the courts of several countries to prosecute and defend court appeals and injunction proceedings relating to rail line construction projects involving disputes among owners, contractors and subcontractors, and have handled a number of high-profile disputes arising under civil engineering contracts. In the United States, we have handled hundreds of proceedings for railroad clients before the Surface Transportation Board and state and federal trial and appellate courts. We have also handled a broad range of antitrust issues before the relevant government agencies as well as the courts.

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