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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Rail suppliers object to STB proposals for 'reciprocal switching,' commodities


A group of rail suppliers and their representatives have written to members of Congress to express concern over the Surface Transportation Board's consideration of "reciprocal switching" rules and commodity re-regulation.

The group takes issue with the perspective of rail shippers that recently wrote to congressional members advocating for the STB to allow reciprocal switching.

The suppliers' letter was signed by GoRail, the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association, the Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association, the Railway Supply Institute, Railway Systems Suppliers Inc. and the Railway Tie Association, as well as 106 individual rail supply industry companies.

"As leaders on issues pertaining to surface transportation, the railroad supply community asks you to please consider the facts as it relates to the STB and proposed regulations," the rail suppliers' letter stated.

Reciprocal switching would upend precedent by forcing "railroads to switch traffic to competitors without any suggestion that the incumbent railroad failed to offer competitive services, or has otherwise engaged in any sort of unreasonable behavior," the suppliers wrote.

Although such a rule might be helpful to a few shippers, "in the aggregate it would strain a 140,000-mile network and degrade services for the majority of customers," the suppliers stated.

Meanwhile, a separate STB-proposed rule would subject five commodity groups to economic regulation for the first time in two decades, "despite the fact that railroads face strong competition for the service from trucks," according to the letter.

"We are concerned that the STB has interpreted its reauthorization as a signal that Congress wanted the independent agency to regulate more," the suppliers wrote.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 10/4/2016