RAIL SHIPPERS APPLAUD KOHL/VITTER LEGISLATION TO REMOVE RAILROADS’ ANTITRUST EXEMPTIONS

WASHINGTON – Railroad shippers today praised the introduction of legislation in the U.S. Senate that would remove antitrust exemptions that needlessly shield freight railroads from obeying the same rules of fair competition that govern almost all other industries.  The bipartisan bill, the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act, S. 49, was introduced by Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Senator David Vitter (R-LA). “Under current law, the railroad monopoly is allowed to charge excessive rates and provide inferior service while rail customers are powerless to do anything,” said Glenn English, Chairman of Consumers United for Rail Equity, a coalition of freight rail customers.  “This legislation would ensure the railroads don’t get any more special treatment, and would lead to a fairer, stronger and more competitive rail industry that works to the benefit of our entire economy.” Because of the special protections they receive under current law, the railroads are able to charge excessive rates of their customers that are then passed along to consumers through everything from higher electricity rates to grocery bills.  The Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act would abolish these unnecessary antitrust exemptions.  It is identical to legislation introduced in the last Congress that was reported out of the Judiciary Committee by a unanimous 14-0 vote. The United States currently has just four major freight railroads.  These railroads provide nearly 90 percent of the nation’s freight rail transportation, by revenue.  Last year, a joint USDA-DOT report issued found there is “considerable evidence” that freight rail companies collected excessive fuel surcharges from rail customers to artificially boost profits. “We appreciate the work being done by Senator Kohl and Senator Vitter to remove these antitrust exemptions that serve only to benefit the railroad monopoly at the expense of American businesses and consumers,” said English.  “America needs a freight rail system that works to benefit everyone, and this bill would help ensure that happens.” For more information about CURE, please visitwww.railcure.org.

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