Washington, DC – Ed Hamberger, President and CEO of the Association of American Railroads, offered the House Transportation and Infrastructure Rail Subcommittee four principles that encourage sustained private investments in the country’s 140,000-mile rail network so freight rail can continue supporting the U.S. economy:
Maintain balanced economic regulations
Promote public-private partnerships
Encourage regulatory flexibility that allows railroads to develop and improve infrastructure safety and performance
Embrace a user-pay model that addresses modal inequities and rehabilitates the Highway Trust Fund
“The freight rail industry’s unquestioned success must not be undone, particularly when the Surface Transportation Board (STB), which has broad economic regulatory oversight of freight railroads, resumes work on major rulemakings currently on hold,” Hamberger said in his statement.
“While some groups want the STB to exert broader control over crucial areas of rail operations, including routing and pricing, this would be destructive to the broader economy. Government price controls geared to favor certain rail customers at the expense of others would not only hurt railroads, but also employees, American consumers and investors. It would also undermine efforts to ensure adequate freight rail capacity to meet our nation’s current and future freight transportation needs.
“For any serious conversation about revitalizing public infrastructure in the U.S., lawmakers instead should embrace the simple premise that users of infrastructure should pay their full share for using that infrastructure – just like private freight rail does today. This is particularly true for the nation’s roads and bridges.
“Congress has transferred $143 billion since 2008 from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund to rehabilitate worn roads and make necessary upgrades.
“This taxpayer-funded subsidy distorts the competitive environment by making it appear that trucks are less expensive than they actually are and puts other modes, especially rail, at a disadvantage.