An advocacy group for U.S. freight rail is asking the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to be mindful of how it applies its oversight in governing rail service.
GoRail, a national grassroots advocacy organization, said the freight railroads need “balanced” rail regulation that doesn’t cause wholesale changes, according to a Wednesday letter to the STB.
Unlike other transportation modes, the Class I railroads spend billions of dollars annually to maintain and develop their networks, and the rail industry attributes the ability to earn the financial returns they need to maintain their networks to deregulation.
The group dated its letter to the STB Oct. 14, which was the 40th anniversary of the Staggers Act, a keystone legislative piece that deregulated the U.S. freight rail industry.
“We write to urge the Board to maintain the balanced underlying economic framework that has been the bedrock of your decisions and ensure that no actions you take undermine the ability of freight railroads to reinvest in the rail network,” the letter said.
“Any action inhibiting freight rail investment would threaten economic development and quality of life in our communities, precipitate job losses in the rail supply and contracting sectors, and undercut safety, efficiency and productivity across the rail network, affecting all railroads, small and large,” the letter continued.
The letter was signed by more than 1,000 local and national leaders, including more than 320 mayors, commissioners and local government representatives; over 230 state legislators; more than 200 business leaders, ports and economic development organizations; nearly 90 think tanks and policy groups; nearly 150 rail supply companies and associations; and 25 former administration officials and congressional leaders, including seven former U.S. secretaries of transportation, according to GoRail.
“Forty years ago the far-sighted reforms of the Staggers Act released freight railroads from the grip of federal overregulation and enabled them to invest, expand and innovate to the ongoing benefit of communities and businesses from coast to coast,” said GoRail President Russ McGurk.
“I am grateful to the broad and diverse group of leaders who have joined in reinforcing the need to preserve the core principles and balanced approach of this visionary legislation,” McGurk said.
The letter is available here.