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A collection of national trade associations representing rail shippers have formed the Rail Customer Coalition to support federal legislation that would affect how the Surface Transportation Board (STB) regulates freight-rail rates, competition and service issues.Specifically, the group is calling on Congress to pass the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2015, a bill introduced by U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) to reform the STB. The coalition represents manufacturers, farmers and energy producers.The coalition maintains that the STB's policies have not kept up with changes in the freight-rail industry, and as a result their freight-rail rates are too high. The proposed legislation would "increase rail-to-rail competition and improve how freight-rail issues are resolved," coalition officials said in a press release.Meanwhile, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) responded to the Senate Commerce Committee's approval on Wednesday of the STB reauthorization bill."ASLRRA appreciates the open door policy that has been maintained by the Senate Commerce Committee throughout its consideration of the STB reauthorization bill, S. 808, a bill to establish the STB as an independent establishment and for other purposes,” said ASLRRA President Linda Darr in a prepared statement.
Darr also said the group welcomes the introduction of S. 650, which would extend the deadline by five years for railroads to comply with federally mandated positive train control implementation.