By Jim Blaze, Contributing Editor, Railway Age Magazine; November 26, 2019
A headline story says that U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has introduced a bill that would allow Amtrak to sue the freight railroads for preventing Amtrak from meeting suitable on-time performance standards. The senator alleges, “By empowering Amtrak to hold the freight railroads accountable … we can improve Amtrak’s on-time performance and save taxpayer dollars. The people of Illinois—and Amtrak riders nationwide—deserve assurance that they can arrive at their destination in a safe and timely manner.”
Realistically, the risk is that the freight shippers who use railroads will actually pay the price burden. Railroad companies could write penalty checks to Amtrak if this is enacted into law and then enforced. The theory of this column is that priority shipper freight will instead be delayed. That will be the price paid. Shippers, consider this brief as your alert message.