A trade group representing major freight railroads and Amtrak is urging President-elect Donald Trump to keep the rail industry in mind when crafting any infrastructure proposals.
From The Hill
In a letter to the transition team on Monday, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) called for a number of specific policy reforms that affect the freight rail industry, which spent more than $30 billion in 2015 alone.
“A critical component of our national infrastructure is the freight rail industry, which generated $274 billion in economic activity in 2014 while supporting almost 1.5 million jobs throughout the country,” wrote Edward Hamberger, president and chief executive officer of AAR. “As the transition team begins laying the groundwork for investing in other areas of our infrastructure, freight railroads can serve as an example of how smart investments can spur huge economic impacts.”
First, AAR pressed the Trump Administration to ensure that the Surface Transportation Board (STB) is equipped with five members “who are committed to sound economic principles and understand that freight rail regulations impact the entire economy.”
The board is authorized to have up to five members – who are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate – but the STB currently only has three members.
“Only when equipped with a full, five member board, should the STB proceed with major rule makings,” Hamberger wrote.
Second, AAR called for an overhaul of the regulatory system, saying that rules should be based on sound data and only enacted when the benefits outweigh the costs. The group also asked the administration to avoid overly prescriptive safety regulations and instead embrace a performance-based approach that leaves room for emerging technologies and innovation.
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