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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

AAR to STB: 'Forced' switching is unnecessary


The Association of American Railroads (AAR) recently filed with the Surface Transportation Board (STB) supplemental comments on a proposed reciprocal switching regulation.

The board has scheduled a March 15-16 public hearing on the proposed regulation, which would call on railroads to establish switching arrangements under certain circumstances.

In its latest statement to the STB, the AAR — which is opposed to what it calls "forced switching" — makes several points to explain why reciprocal switching regulations should not be enforced.

Among the AAR's arguments against reciprocal switching:
• The proposed rule would not enhance the rail industry's service to the public. To the contrary, the proposed rule would discourage railroads' future investments in the rail network.
• Industries clamoring for the proposed rule have higher returns on investment compared to their cost of capital than does the rail industry.
• The theory that rail industry consolidation in the 1990s increased single-served shippers is refuted by the data: A smaller percentage of shipments today move to and from stations with single service than was the case in the 1990s.
• Differential pricing is necessary to the rail network's future viability.
• The proposed rule would create more safety risks for rail workers.
• Forced switching would decrease operational efficiency and increase greenhouse gas emissions.
• Existing railroads' shipping rates are not unreasonably, as some shippers claim.

The AAR further asserts that the existing rule now in place is enough to address shippers' concerns. The proposed new rule does nothing to advance the bests interests of all involved: the industry, shippers and the public.

To read the AAR's full document, click here.  

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/16/2022