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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

U.S. Sen. Baldwin introduces rail shipper 'fairness' bill

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
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U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) has introduced the Rail Shippers Fairness Act that would, among other measures, require railroads to participate in competitive switching.

The bill aims to "reduce costs and improve service problems" faced by Wisconsin rail shippers, including farmers, manufacturers and utilities, according to a press release issued by Baldwin's office.

The legislation would reform rate case regulations and includes provisions to implement competitive switching, which Baldwin has called for in a previous letter to the Surface Transportation Board (STB). Additionally, the bill would prohibit railroads from charging customers for fuel "in a way that does not correlate with actual fuel costs," the senator's press release stated.

"Our Wisconsin businesses need a quality and responsive railroad system to effectively get their goods to market," said Baldwin. "In order to continue building a strong Made-in-Wisconsin economy that is fair to farmers, manufacturers, and consumers, we need to give these shippers a seat at the table."

The bill has received support from the Wisconsin Freight Rail Customer Alliance and the national Freight Rail Customer Alliance.

"This legislation builds upon the reforms to the Surface Transportation Board made by Congress when it reauthorized the STB in 2015," said David Sauer, president of the Freight Rail Customer Alliance.

Baldwin has introduced similar legislation in the past. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) has opposed legislation and proposed STB rules that call for competitive or "reciprocal" switching.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 5/31/2017