Little Engine

Why “The Little Engine That Couldn’t” is a Must-Read

“The Little Engine That Couldn’t,” is based on a true story that U.S. freight shippers know all too well ‒ and aims to shed light on the pressing need to reform.

In the shadow of inflation and product shortages driven by transportation-related supply chain problems, this book spotlights some of the challenges of shipping goods by freight rail. “The Little Engine That Couldn’t” tells the tale of a determined little locomotive that, despite its unwavering spirit, struggles to deliver cargo on time while rail customers – including farmers and manufacturers – are hit with higher rates, fees, product embargoes and fewer options for reliable service.

The story weaves together a growing list of freight rail problems to help policymakers understand how these problems weaken the supply chain and harm U.S. manufacturers, farmers, energy producers, and consumers.


As Competition Decreases, Freight Rail Problems Increase

With 4 mega-railroads controlling 90% of rail traffic in the U.S., service cuts and restrictions, including embargoes, have increased – resulting in shipment delays that disrupt the production of everyday goods and weaken the supply chain.

To make matters worse, rail rates have increased by over 40% from 2004-2019. In addition, the railroads have added dozens of fees – like fuel surcharges, demurrage fees, empty freight fees, and diversion charges.

Freight Rail Reform is Needed NOW … America Can’t Afford to Wait Any Longer

Railroads are failing to deliver for their shipping customers, American families, and the economy. Rail problems are driving up prices and disrupting deliveries for food, fuel, and countless other goods that Americans rely on

Policymakers should adopt these reforms to help get freight rail back to work for American businesses and consumers:

Increase Rail-to-Rail

Remove regulatory barriers to competitive rail service by updating the Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) reciprocal switching rules.

Fight Monopoly

Develop an economic model to measure how much more rail shippers must pay when they lack competitive transportation options.

Pass the Reliable Rail
Service Act

Clarify the railroads’ common carrier obligation to provide service in line with customer needs.