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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Midwestern state alliance backs 're-regulation' bills


Add another interest group to those supporting rail industry "re-regulation" bills under consideration in Congress.

The Midwestern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments recently adopted a resolution urging congressmen to pass the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act (H.R. 1650 /S. 772) and Railroad Competition and Service Improvement Act (H.R. 2125/S. 953). The group comprises legislators from all three branches of government in 11 Midwestern states.
"The lack of competition has led to an increase in captive shippers, rising rail rates and deterioration in service quality," the resolution states. "For many products, including grain from some elevators, it is not feasible to ship by any means other than rail, leaving some of the shippers of these products [and their consumers] captive to the single railroad."

H.R. 1650/S. 772 would permit the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to review railroad mergers under antitrust law, and eliminate antitrust exemptions for mergers, acquisitions, collective rate-making and coordination among railroads. H.R. 2125/S. 953 also proposes to remove railroads' antitrust exemptions. The bills are supported by a coalition of 13 rail shippers, state regulators, farmers and consumers.

However, the rail industry contends the legislation would force railroads to lower their rates to below-market levels in certain cases at the expense of other shippers, railroads and the general public.

The bills have passed both House and Senate judiciary committees and await action by the full House and Senate.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/30/2008