WASHINGTON (June 29, 2023) — The American Chemistry Council welcomes the introduction of the bipartisan Reliable Rail Service Act by Senators Baldwin and Marshall and calls on the Senate to support its passage.
During several recent hearings before Congress and the Surface Transportation Board (STB), ACC has called on policymakers to address escalating problems with freight rail service that are harming American manufacturing.
The legislation is also very timely since it will help the STB take decisive action when it comes to dealing with freight rail problems. According to the Board’s recent report to Congress many of the policy reforms underway at the STB are overdue.
Why it matters
With concerns mounting over freight rail service failures, the legislation seeks to resolve serious freight rail service problems that are disrupting the economy and contributing to the supply chain crisis. A recent survey of ACC members found that 30% of companies said rail service problems were worse in the second half of last year, and more than three quarters reported worse service than before the pandemic. Poor rail service and missed deliveries have resulted in lost production for chemical manufacturers and harmed the other economic sectors they support – from farms to factories.
The legislation recognizes freight service problems are systemic and require action by policymakers. Years of railroad actions to cut workers, close rail yards, and take locomotives out of service have gutted network resilience, making service disruptions more frequent, severe, and long-lasting.
In testimony to Congress last year, STB Chairman Martin Oberman highlighted the need to more clearly define the railroads’ statutory obligations related to rail service performance.
The bill addresses key issues to help support the STB, including the following:
- Clarifying that railroads have a statutory obligation to provide “timely, efficient, and reliable rail service;” and
- Establishing specific criteria to hold railroads accountable for fulfilling this obligation.
“If we want to fix our supply chain and make more things in America rather than in places like China – we need to make sure freight rail can deliver,” said Chris Jahn, President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Chemistry Council. “Senators Baldwin and Marshall have put together a sensible solution aimed at addressing ongoing freight rail service failures that all members of Congress should be interested in solving. We urge Democrats and Republicans support to support this legislation, which will help ensure railroads live up to their obligation to provide reliable service.”