- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 5, 2001

Susan Molinari completely mischaracterizes the position of rail customers in her April 17 Commentary column, “Trying to roll back the railroad clocks.” Rail customers are not asking for re-regulation.

The intent of the Staggers Rail Act of 1980 was not simply to “deregulate” the nation´s railroads, but rather to encourage competition, protect captive shippers from unreasonable rates and return the railroads to financial health. For more than two decades, regulators have concentrated on the health of the railroads but have ignored the pro-competitive provisions of the Staggers Act. Rail customers want the existing pro-competitive provisions implemented in a way that removes existing regulatory barriers.

Railroads remain among the few existing monopolies and are exempt from most antitrust and restraint-of-trade laws administered by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. Nearly two-thirds of the manufacturing facilities of American Chemistry Council members are captive to one railroad and, consequently, pay rates that are 15 percent to 60 percent higher than those with rail competition. In addition, they often receive substandard service.

Free-market forces work best for everyone and will lead to greater efficiencies, innovation, reasonable prices and better service. But they can work only when there is competition. Improvements are needed in competitive access and service reliability so that all American businesses can compete successfully in a global economy. Consumers will benefit when the needs of rail customers and railroads are balanced.


President and chief executive officer

American Chemistry Council


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