Washington Must Act on Much Needed Improvements to Freight Rail Policies

Now is the time to improve the outdated rules at the Surface Transportation Board to make a fairer economic regulatory framework and strengthen the nation’s freight rail system. For decades, the railroads have vehemently opposed any manner of change proposed by this independent regulatory body in charge of both the well-being of the rail industry and protection for its customers. What the railroads fail to mention in their torrent of op-ed pieces against change is they have monopoly power over their customers in many circumstances, and the Board serves as the only backstop to protect these customers from this monopoly power. Consequently, if the Board’s rules do not work, there is nowhere else to turn. The changes proposed by the Board are not as ominous as the railroads make them out to be. The reciprocal switching proposal is a long-needed cure to a policy that has completely failed over the last 30 years. Under reciprocal switching, an incumbent carrier…

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