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The National Industrial Transportation League, the nation's largest advocate organization for shippers, is asking the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to adopt new rules so that captive shippers served by a single railroad can more easily gain access to competing railroads.
In a recent filing, the NIT League is seeking a change in rules having to do with reciprocal switching. If captive shippers can't get a Class I railroad to give them access to a competing railroad, they would be able to go to the board and get a competitive switching agreement ordered if they could meet several conditions that NIT League said would be "unambiguous."
NIT League President Bruce Carlton said the STB's existing competitive access rules "have not worked. No shipper has ever succeeded in gaining access to a competitive line in today's regulatory framework. The new approach we are seeking would be a first step toward correcting that imbalance."
Carlton said the NIT League's proposal "is clearly not a move to reregulate the carriers. Likewise it is not a panacea for every rail service and rate problem we heard at the recent board hearing. But it is a positive and balanced step that can be taken by the board to enhance competition in many rail markets."
The American Association of Railroads said it was "reviewing the NIT League filing and will need to analyze it further before we can provide substantive comment."
AAR has traditionally opposed mandatory reciprocal switching.
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