Analysis: Can the Surface Transportation Board Stem Rail Monopolies’ Abuse of Shippers?

By David Sparkman, Material Handling & Logistics; June 19, 2019

The agenda of the two-day hearing held by the Surface Transportation Board (STB) in late May was supposed to focus on skyrocketing freight rail demurrage and accessorial fees, but it quickly became clear that the real subject was the Class 1 railroads’ growing abuse of their near-monopoly power in the face of a regulatory scheme not designed to deal with it.

In her opening statement, STB chairman Ann Begeman pointedly remarked on the fact that the crowded hearing room showed rail customers’ outrage over the railroad intimidation tactics had overcome any fear they had about testifying, noting the railroads previous attempts to intimidate them from complaining before a commission listening session held in late 2017.

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