CURE Comments on Shipper Testimony to National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board

Contact: Steve Sharp 501-570-2467   March 17, 2014  



  WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Friday March 14, 2013, the National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board (TRB), heard testimony from railroads and rail shippers as the TRB sought input for its comprehensive study of the nation’s railroad transportation system since the enactment of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980. Steve Sharp, President of Consumers United for Rail Equity (CURE), a coalition of rail-dependent shippers seeking rail-to-rail competition in the national freight rail system, issued the following statement following CURE’s testimony:   “Shippers delivered a clear message to the TRB Members: a 21stcentury freight transportation network must provide competitive railroad shipping options for rail dependent shippers.   “Railroad advocates continue to argue that current Federal rail policy is ‘balanced’ and reliant on ‘market-based competition.’  While both terms certainly were envisioned by the architects of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, the implementation of the Act and changes in the rail industry throughout the last 30 years have resulted in very little rail competition for rail dependent shippers and no balance between the interests of shippers and the railroads.   “Without reforms that allow rail dependent shippers access to railroad competition, American companies that must ship their goods by rail increasingly will fall behind their global competitors, reducing U.S. exports, raising prices for consumers and costing hard-working Americans their jobs.   “Common sense reforms could offer shippers greater access to competing railroads and more effective remedies at the Surface Transportation Board for those instances when shippers are denied access to competition.  Customers enjoy access to competition in every means of transportation in the United States except for rail dependent shippers using our national freight rail system.  This must change.   “We commend Congress for engaging the National Academy of Sciences to perform this study and the TRB for holding this hearing to learn more about rail-dependent shipper needs. We remain committed to working closely with the TRB to ensure that its final recommendations reflect that rail dependent shippers must have access to railroad competition in order for our national freight rail system to work for Americans competing in the global economy of the 21st Century.”