Administration Pushes for Rail Investment as Regulatory Concerns Mount

Oct 18, 2010, 16:18 ET from The Journal of Commerce

NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- Railroads are taking center stage in the Obama administration's vision for the U.S. transportation network of the future. To get there, however, will require billions of dollars in investment, the centerpiece of which will be high-speed rail networks connecting more cities. With most of the nation's passenger network running over tracks owned by freight railroads, the ambitious vision of complementary, high-performing rail systems for passengers and freight is proving a tough sell — inside Washington, at the state and city level and with freight railroad companies themselves.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20101018/NY84055 )

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20101018/NY84055 )

The debate is just one of several highly visible and controversial issues — from possible re-regulation and stimulus funding to a looming case over shipper charges of railroad pricing collusion — that could mark the biggest change to the rail industry since it was deregulated 30 years ago.

The confluence of events comes amid a business surge that has seen intermodal rail traffic jump 15 percent this year, which points to the strongest peak rail freight season since before the economic collapse — and maybe longer. With the Federal Railroad Administration expecting rail freight volume to increase 2.8 billion tons by 2035 and U.S. population growing by 70 million, Washington is feeling the pressure to invest in the railroads of the future now. But in its push to restructure rail freight shipping, the nation's political engine is still trying to figure out what that structure should be.  

In this week's Cover Story, The Journal of Commerce analyzes all sides of the ambitious rail strategy, the outcome of which could reshape networks and supply chains across the country.

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SOURCE The Journal of Commerce



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