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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Congress to consider second 'rail competition' bill


The annual re-regulation debate is heating up again on Capitol Hill. On Monday, Rep. Mark Green (R-Wis.) introduced the Railroad Antitrust and Competition Act of 2005 (H.R. 3318), which proposes to amend the Clayton Act to restore the application of antitrust laws to railroads.

Enacted in the early 20th century, the Clayton Act gave railroads an “unfair advantage” over shippers and created a “monopolistic environment,” said Green in a prepared statement.

“While businesses in virtually every other sector of our economy have been shaped by healthy competitive forces, railroad companies have been immune to laws that thwart monopolies and foster competition,” he said. “Because rail carriers in some sectors have no direct competition, they haven’t had to be as responsive to customer businesses as they would be in competitive markets.”

The bill was referred to the House’s judiciary, and transportation and infrastructure committees.

In April, Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) introduced the Railroad Competition Act of 2005 (S. 919), which also proposes to “ensure effective competition” among railroads. In addition, the bill — which is opposed by the rail industry — would enforce reasonable rail rates “in the absence of effective competition,” and require railroads to maintain consistent and efficient service for shippers, including timely rail-car distribution.