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Rail competition act co-sponsor joins lobbying effort to enact bill at House committee hearing


U.S. Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.) joined other legislators and rail shippers yesterday at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing to urge Congress to enact legislation aimed at increasing rail competition.

A senior committee member, Baker is a co-sponsor of the Railroad Competition and Service Improvement Act of 2007 (H.R. 2125), which proposes rail competition reforms.

“Our national rail policy is broken,” said Baker in a prepared statement regarding his hearing testimony. “Over the years, the Surface Transportation Board (STB) has created a freight-rail marketplace that has essentially become a federally protected monopoly. It is time to restore competition to our nation’s freight-rail marketplace.”

A companion bill to S. 953, H.R. 2125 would direct the STB to ensure effective competition among rail carriers, reasonable rail rates, and “consistent and efficient” rail transportation; eliminate “paper barriers” that prevent short lines from providing rail access to certain shippers; reduce fees for filing rail rate cases from $140,600 to about $500; and prohibit the STB from using a current practice of requiring shippers that challenge rail rates to estimate the cost of constructing and operating a hypothetical railroad that carries only the shippers’ freight.

The Association of American Railroads opposes both bills, which association officials believe would re-regulate the rail industry.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/26/2007