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America Needs Smarter Freight Rail Policies

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Scott Jensen
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The Rail Customer Coalition recently sent a letter to the head of President-elect Biden’s Transportation Transition Team to share the coalition’s top policy priorities for 2021 and to urge the new administration to support STB reform.

The country’s transportation network is at a tipping point due to the fact that federal policies have not been able to keep up with major and disruptive changes within the freight rail industry. Massive consolidation and major operational changes have diminished service and driven up the cost to ship by rail.

Small and large businesses across America depend on railroads to connect them with their customers and are calling on policymakers to act on solutions that will get freight rail back on track. That is why the Coalition supports regulatory reforms at the Surface Transportation Board (STB) that will promote a healthy, reliable and affordable freight rail network.

The letter specifically asks President-Elect Biden to move quickly to fill the critical roles of both a Chairman and new member at the STB. It calls for current STB Vice Chairman Martin Oberman to be designated as Chairman upon the start of the Biden Administration. The coalition also requests that the upcoming Board vacancy be filled with an individual who shares the commitment in moving the Board forward, as demonstrated by Vice Chairman Oberman and Member Patrick Fuchs. The nominee needs to be fair-minded, objective and innovative in addressing freight rail issues. With such strong leadership, and a full complement of Board Members committed to fulfilling the entire mission of the Staggers Rail Act, the STB can establish a more balanced and modern regulatory system that helps ensure that rail remains a vital mode of transportation well into the future.

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