September 19, 2014

UTU, railroads oppose Senate antitrust bill

WASHINGTON –The Association of American Railroads (AAR) strongly objects to the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act, introduced today by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), saying that while the bill claims to repeal freight railroads’ limited antitrust exemptions, it actually singles out railroads for policies that could undermine the industry’s ability to build, maintain and continuously upgrade the nation’s rail infrastructure without taxpayer assistance.

“This bill proposes sweeping changes that would negatively impact this country’s freight rail industry,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Sections of this bill are designed to override existing regulatory decisions and could potentially roll back government-approved transactions in railroad history. That retroactive application would inevitably create conflicts and uncertainty for railroads, railroad customers and courts. The resulting regulatory uncertainty could undermine the private freight railroads’ ability to sustain necessary and critical private investments in America’s rail infrastructure.

“There’s one thing in Washington that everyone agrees on – and that is our nation’s infrastructure needs attention and serious investment. Freight railroads have invested more than $526 billion in private capital over the past three decades – half a trillion dollars – into America’s rail infrastructure so taxpayers didn’t have to. A regulatory environment that encourages private investment should remain a priority.”

Contrary to what bill proponents assert, Hamberger said that railroads are subject to most antitrust laws. In areas where they do have limited exemptions, railroads are regulated by the Surface Transportation Board (STB). “Bear in mind, there is no gap in government oversight of railroad activities,” he added.

“The elimination of billions of dollars from railroads’ revenue stream by Congress intervening on behalf of multi-billion dollar corporations trying to get lower shipping rates would certainly eliminate thousands of railroad jobs,” SMART Transportation Division President Mike Futhey said.

Added SMART Transportation Division National Legislative Director James Stem: “We did not like the concept of rail mergers that we knew were going to eliminate railroad jobs and customer service, when the mergers were occurring. This issue today is not about customer service, only about the price of the service. We strongly support growing our rail industry.”

To view an AAR fact sheet urging senators to refrain from co-sponsoring the legislation, click here.