With so many priorities competing for the attention of Congress, it was encouraging to see the U.S. House of Representatives support a much needed study of a key issue plaguing the businesses that depend on freight rail.

As part of the INVEST in America Act that recently cleared the House, Chairman DeFazio (D-OR) of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure included an important provision that calls for a federal study of the impacts of Precision Scheduled Railroading by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

During railroad shipper roundtable last year, DeFazio along with  the members of the committee heard firsthand accounts from many large and small business about how the drastic operational changes rashly enacted by the major railroads as part of their pursuit to implement Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) have threatened their operations. As part of their testimony, these companies provided detailed accounts of how these changes were often made with little advance notice or consultation and resulted in harmful service reductions and higher shipping costs.

The GAO study is a logical follow up to the roundtable and would provide a much needed examination of how these operational changes have impacted workforce safety, the quality and reliability of freight rail service, investments in railroad infrastructure, and additional fees charged to shippers.

A study will not make all of the problems that have come with PSR magically disappear, but the results could help guide future rail policy to promote a safe, strong, reliable, and competitive rail network and help drive the American economy forward.

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