Congress Responds to Consumer Complaints about Rail Pricing

While has been able to respond to the current decline in the freight industry by negotiating outstanding rates for its customers, some shippers around the country apparently feel that the freight-rail industry has committed pricing abuse since its deregulation almost thirty years ago.

Daniel Elliott, President Obama’s nominee to head the three-member Surface Transportation Board which regulates the railroad industry, told a Congressional committee that he planned to be proactive in addressing these allegations of pricing abuses. Elliott, who is expected to be confirmed by the Senate, next week, also stated that the 1980 Staggers Act, which deregulated the rail industry, was outdated due to the better financial position the rail companies are now in.

Elliott’s comments coincided with the House Judiciary subcommittee approval of a bill that would eliminate exemptions from antitrust law for commercial railroad companies. Separately, Democratic Senators Rockefeller and Kohl are apparently putting together a legislative package which also eliminate the antitrust exemptions and would overhaul the Surface Transportation Board. That proposal has not yet been released to the media.

The railroads, unsurprisingly, believe that these newest efforts in Washington are unnecessary. Lobbyists for consumer groups are pleased with the talk of strengthening antitrust laws as related to the rail industry.

Many consumers’ organizations believe that the deregulation of railways eroded competition, gave railroads too much power in pricing leaded to exorbitant prices. The railroads, of course, deny that to be the case.

Regardless of the ultimate outcome of this current round of proposed legislation and regulatory change, Freightquote remains vigilant in its efforts to seek out and negotiate the best possible pricing from the most reputable and reliable carriers on the road, rails, sea and in the air for all of its shippers.

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