In December, Congress passed and the President signed the most significant reforms to the nation’s freight rail system since the Staggers Rail Act of 1980. Now that our elected leaders have set a course, it’s time to finish the job by ensuring the Surface Transportation Board (STB) can implement free-market reforms and resolve rate disputes swiftly and fairly. Our rail customer coalition recently sent a letter to leaders of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees urging them to fully fund the STB so that it has the resources and staff it needs to follow the bipartisan direction of Congress.
We also sent a letter to the current STB commissioners urging them to implement the new set of reforms without delay. Specifically, we urged the STB to—
- Include rail customer viewpoints in the STB’s required report on rate case methodologies
- Move forward on key proceedings, including competitive switching, and provide regular reporting on progress of pending action
- Prioritize rate review timeline requirements
- Initiate investigations (where appropriate) into railroad practices that impact rail shippers on a national or regional scale and, more importantly, order remedies based on the conclusions of the investigation
- Enact regulations for the expansion of existing STB arbitration capabilities
With proper funding and staffing, there is no reason that the STB cannot quickly carry out reforms to make our freight rail system work better for railroads, shippers, and all stakeholders.
THE RAIL CUSTOMER COALITION
The coalition is a large collection of trade associations representing a broad cross section of manufacturing, agricultural, and energy industries with operations and employees throughout the United States, including: