The Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) strongly supports legislation introduced November 18 by Congressman Jim Oberstar (D-MN) that would bring competition and fairness to the rail industry. The bill, the Surface Transportation Board Reform Act of 1999 (H.R. 3446), joins legislation that TIA and other rail customers have fought for in the House and Senate (S. 621/H.R. 2784).

TIA Chief Executive Officer Robert A. Voltmann states, “House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Ranking Member Oberstar is to be congratulated for his efforts in getting the T&I Committee focused on rail customer concerns. His legislation adds to a growing number of bills before Congress that shows the time is now to reform our nation’s rail policy.

The TIA membership spends over $5 billion annually in moving freight and needs to have continued access to rail service to serve their customers-many who make up small business America. A provision in H.R. 3446 of particular importance to our membership is a clarification of rail policy that would ensure that smaller carload and intermodal shippers are not precluded for accessing rail systems due to volume requirements [Sec. 101, (4)]. Enactment of this legislation will insure that the rail industry returns to the original intent of the Staggers Act—competition, improved service and affordable access for both large and small rail customers.”

TIA has worked with other rail customers over the past year in promoting legislative reform to the STB. Providing rail access for all intermodal marketing companies (IMCs) is a top priority for TIA. TIA worked to include an Intermodal provision in H.R. 3446, H.R. 2784, and S. 621 in response to efforts by railroads to force IMC’s—most who serve many of our nation’s small businesses—from the marketplace. “We need to allow competitive market forces to work to expand the use of rail and intermodal. Recent actions by rail carriers to limit access to intermodal to only the largest users is wrong headed. Passage of STB reform legislation will allow rail customers and rail carriers to increase the rail freight pie instead of cutting the current pie into smaller pieces,” Voltmann said.