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U.S. needs national freight policy, BNSF's Rose says


The biggest challenge to an efficient U.S. freight system? The lack of a national freight policy, said BNSF Railway Co. Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Matt Rose, who testified last week at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the nation’s freight transportation system.

"Now, more than ever, the government’s role in providing a vision and funding for freight mobility is so important," said Rose, according to a statement released by the Association of American Railroads. "The challenges around capacity, environmental requirements, and even fuel costs, can be managed  — if there is a coherent federal policy framework."

A policy roadmap would include a national vision for freight projects, balanced economic regulation, tax incentives to spur infrastructure investments, increased use of public-private partnerships and performance based-transportation funds, he said.

An efficient supply chain would make U.S. goods and labor more competitive overseas, and help propel the U.S. economy’s recovery, Rose believes. The rail industry realized “enormous efficiencies” after deregulation in the 1980s, but supply-chain costs began to increase in 2003 as the economy began to outgrow capacity, he said.

To increase freight-rail market share by 10 percent, an additional $700 million in annual investment is necessary, said Rose.