US Senate committee approves freight rail bill

17 December 2009 20:25  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The commerce committee of the US Senate approved the Surface Transportation Board Reauthorisation Act of 2009, a move that should help protect the rights of both chemical shippers and railroads, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said on Thursday.

“Today’s action by the Senate Commerce Committee is an important step toward creating a more competitive and viable freight rail system," according to a statement by Cal Dooley, ACC president.

If passed as law, the bill would enhance the role of the Surface Transportation Board (STB), encouraging it to protect the rights of shippers and railroads, Dooley said.

"The bill also seeks to address critical bottleneck and terminal switching issues, grants the STB authority to initiate its own investigations and removes barriers for shippers to file complaints in small and mid-size rate cases," he said.

However, the bill should still do more to address what the ACC called outdated federal policies, Dooley said. It should include some of the antimonopoly measures approved earlier in the year by another Senate committee.

"We are also troubled by provisions that require captive shippers to pay an unwarranted rate contribution for partial access to another railroad’s services, thus reducing the likelihood of truly competitive rail service," Dooley said. “We will continue to seek improvements in this legislation so that our members, other shippers and the nation can enjoy the benefits of a healthy and competitive rail system.”

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By: Al Greenwood
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