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Odd Group Pushes Big Rail’s Agenda

Apparently fearful that the fallout from the CSX service meltdown could fuel calls for re-regulation, the railroad lobby seems to have recruited a motley cast of characters to tell Congress to back off.

The odd coalition of non-transportation groups asked Senate leaders to only approve nominees to the Surface Transportation Board who oppose what the railroads claim are shipper requests that would be tantaount to re-regulation.

“Many industry observers have expressed concern that imposing forced reciprocal switching and reducing rate flexibility will come at the expense of network investment,” the coalition letter says.
“This unprecedented action threatens railroads, shippers, and consumers with degraded service quality and higher prices on goods, which would naturally follow the resulting reduction in operational efficiencies and private railroad investment,” the group adds.

Led by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, the unlikely coalition includes groups previously uninvolved in rail issues, including the Independent Women’s Forum, Tea Party Nation, Faith Works, the 60 Plus Association, the Center for Individual Freedom and a group simply called, Less Government.

Others that seem more appropriate are the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, National Taxpayers Union and American Legislative Exchange Council.

Apparently, they thought hard before writing: “The STB shockingly argues that its inability to uncover any evidence of anticompetitive conduct on the part of the railroad industry justifies its call for eliminating the post-deregulation requirement that anticompetitive conduct be found before mandatory reciprocal switching could be imposed.”

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