NIT League supports rail bill
Major shippers group the National Industrial Transportation League announced Friday support for a Senate bill that proposes an overhaul of railroad regulation, S. 2889, the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2009.
“This decision was made by the board of directors after a careful and comprehensive study of the bill, which was approved by the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in mid-December. The board’s action endorses the recommendation of the league’s Railroad Transportation Committee, which met last month in Atlanta,” the shippers group said.
NIT League President Bruce Carlton said the bill is “a bipartisan, fair compromise that balances the competitive interests of the nation's railroads and their customers. The NITL wants a strong, healthy rail industry that will move the nation’s commerce efficiently in an enhanced competitive environment for rail customers. This is a major step in that direction.”
But executives of major railroads have been critical of the bill. For example, Michael Ward, CSX chairman, said last month the bill is not balanced and “contains dramatic and negative changes and laws that were designed to allow freight rail to be sustained,” adding that it “fundamentally changes the government's approach to freight rail access and pricing by adding requirements at increasing government involvement in the day-to-day operations of trains. That is a recipe for real problems and many requirements are not yet fully defined.”
Among the features the NIT League praised were:
' Emphasis on protection of captive shippers.
' Improved shipper access to competing carriers, trackage and terminals.
' Expansion of the STB from three to five members and enhanced staff support.
' Higher caps in small and medium rate cases.
' Overall regulator process improvements.
Randy Brown, chairman of the NIT League’s Railroad Transportation Committee, said the league was determined “to be actively engaged in the legislative process which will enhance the ability of shippers to effectively serve their own facilities and customers when rail service is the only practical option.” ' Chris Dupin