Rail Reregulation Rejected by Eastern Region of Council of State Governments

WASHINGTON — The Eastern Regional Conference of the Council of State Governments has come out against schemes to reregulate the nation’s freight railroads.

In a resolution passed August 13 by the group’s executive committee, the Council warned that congressional proposals to reregulate the railroads “may significantly reduce income and in turn reduce the ability (of railroads) to raise capital needed for future infrastructure expansion.”

The northeastern region of the U.S. “will require significant railroad corridor development through railroad company/state government partnerships to accommodate future goods and passenger movement,” according to the resolution.

The resolution notes that expanding the capacity of the freight rail network “would yield impressive public benefits by relieving worsening congestion, reducing highway costs, providing a critical intermodal link to international trade and improving air quality and fuel efficiency.”

But, the resolution said, capacity expansion “will require even higher levels of capital investment to accommodate future freight train traffic and the expansion of commuter and intercity passenger trains.” It then urges Congress to “reject efforts to alter the current regulatory system which would discourage investment in the rail infrastructure.”

The resolution also urges Congress “to consider legislative initiatives such as an investment tax credit program that will encourage new private capital investment of a national significance to expand the national railroad network capacity.”

Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger praised the group’s action. “The Council understands the importance of expanding freight rail capacity and gaining the public benefits that would bring. They also understand that reregulation would dry up the very capital needed for that expansion, putting more burden on already-congested highways and forcing taxpayers to pay out even more money for highway expansion.”

The resolution was introduced by Assemblyman John Wisniewski of New Jersey and motioned for passage by Senator Roger Madigan of Pennsylvania.

— Special to Railfanning.org News Wire