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VI Calls on Congress to Support Competitive Switching

Sep 2016

VI recently met with a number of Senators regarding the Surface Transportation Board’s (STB) proposed rule to allow competitive switching on Class 1 railroads.  The rule would allow vinyl manufacturers, and others across the supply chain, to switch their freight from one carrier to another in the event a nearby railroad offered a better deal to shippers. 

The railroads have come out against the proposal saying it would place an unfair burden on them.  Shippers and the STB, however, contend that the proposed rule would increase competition among railroads and drive down costs for shippers and ultimately consumers.  Competitive switching has been practiced in Canada for decades and has reduced costs for shippers while still allowing railroads to remain healthy and innovative. 

VI has also joined 47 other associations in sending a letter to leaders of the Senate and House transportation committees expressing strong support for competitive switching. 

“Last year, the RCC worked closely with Congress to pass common-sense reforms to help make the Surface Transportation Board (STB) a more viable and effective intermediary between railroads and their customers when rate and service issues exist,” the letter read.  “There is widespread recognition in Congress and among virtually all rail customers that modernization of current STB rules is badly needed, and the Board has taken the first step to allow for competitive switching.”

“The Board’s competitive switching proposed rule would allow rail customers with no competitive rail service or other modal options to request to have their freight moved to a nearby rail line, for a fee, if another Class I railroad is reasonably accessible. Competitive switching is expressly allowed by statute, but it has never been permitted by the STB because of overly restrictive regulations at the Board.”