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Senators Want to modernise Rail Freight Regulation

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Amid complaints of poor service and excessive rates, two US senators have introduced a bill to overhaul federal regulation of the nation’s freight railroad network.

The Surface Transportation Board Reauthorization Act of 2014 is aimed at helping shippers cut through a lengthy and time-consuming process for filing complaints against freight railway practices.

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the ranking committee Republican and co-author of the bill, said the STB’s operations need “common-sense reform.”

“The modest bill that Chairman Rockefeller and I are introducing addresses many of the key inefficiencies and time delays I hear about from shippers by reforming the case review process,” he said.

The measure, S. 2777, would add two members to the three-member STB and empower the agency to initiate investigations on its own before complaints are filed.

It also would require the board to establish a binding arbitration process, streamline rate review timelines and encourage the STB to examine key disputes between railways and cargo shippers.