More than 50 top executives whose companies are rail shippers wrote last month to the incoming Trump administration offering to work with it to ensure that rail regulation is fair and reasonable.
Most of the executives’ companies are members of the Rail Customer Coalition and represent some of the nation’s largest customers of freight rail service and come from a variety of industries, including manufacturing, refining and agriculture.
In their letter to Vice President-Elect Mike Pence they invited the new administration to work with them to fill vacancies at the federal Surface Transportation Board by choosing future nominees who are “committed to eliminating outdated rules and overly bureaucratic procedures.”
They stressed, “In order to fully realize the benefits of a manufacturing renaissance, we must be sure that the STB is comprised of members that will make decisions that are based on current economic realities and founded on free market solutions.”
Following the wave of rail mergers in the 1990s, only seven large railroads are left,and the four largest railroads are in control of 90% of the rail traffic in the U.S., the executives noted.
Outdated regulatory protections and overly bureaucratic STB procedures have failed to keep up with these changes, they argued, adding that to advance the new administration’s express goals “board members must be committed to moving forward instead of preserving the status quo.
“As a result, freight rail rates have doubled — more than three times the rate of inflation over the past decade — even though the volume of freight carried by the railroads has barely increased,” they pointed out. “During that same period, rail customers have not seen an improvement in service.”