Railroads were once the backbone of American life, connecting cities and towns in a spider web of steel. Today, most people no longer see trains as an important part of their daily commute or even use them for leisure travel. The continued decline in rail usage is blamed on high fuel prices, increasing taxes, inflation and other factors. But it appears that these problems are limited to America’s underdeveloped regions while developing countries continue to rely on railroads more than ever before
The “chicago rail yard congestion 2022” is a problem that has been present for a while. Chicago’s rail yards have been struggling with overcrowding, which is causing delays and cancellations on the trains.
On April 2, 2021, train consists are built at Norfolk and Southern Railroad’s Conway Yard in Conway, Pa.
Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press photo
Americans are confronted with increasing costs at practically every turn, and the Biden administration has chosen a succession of scapegoats to absolve itself of blame. Its most recent target is railways, and its regulatory barrage might disrupt operations while doing nothing to lower costs.
In April, the Surface Transportation Board (STB), which governs freight railways, decided to propose new regulations that would allow it to interfere more aggressively in scheduling and traffic. The agency stated in a statement that “rail service has grown significantly more unreliable,” implying that delays have driven up producer costs.
STB may compel private railways to adapt under current emergency service standards, including by offering their facilities to rivals’ trains. The new guidelines would give the agency a “hair-trigger” reason to meddle with such business decisions, allowing it to act as soon as two days after a consumer complaint, or even before a complaint has been filed.
Shippers, who are dealing with delays on top of supply and labor problems, are driving the proposal. Last month, the Agriculture Department wrote to the STB, claiming that railroad delays are storing grain in silos. However, the White House’s statements on the cross-industry feud demonstrate its readiness to point the finger at someone.
Last Thursday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki blamed railways for leaving supplies stuck. New standards will “address instances when a monopoly railroad is not delivering acceptable service,” she said. Rail delays, according to the theory, are caused by a lack of competition rather than practical issues. Despite the fact that demand for grain, chemicals, and other items soared in 2021, railroads carried record amounts of grain, chemicals, and other goods.
Sounds familiar, right? The accusation that railways are deliberately delaying service is a replay of the Biden Administration’s assaults on other businesses as inflation rises. During a spike in gas prices in November, President Trump accused oil firms of price gouging and asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate. He filed the same complaint against meatpackers two months later, arguing collusion was pushing up food costs.
In an economy where shortages are causing increased costs and delivery delays across the board, these accusations come with little proof. Consumers should be concerned about the assaults because misguided “competition boosting” might destroy low-margin enterprises.
Maintaining unique switching facilities for railways simplifies logistics and increases incentives for development and maintenance. If you believe the feds may permit your rival access at any point, an investment in a track upgrade looks considerably worse. Freight shippers have long pushed to compel inter-railroad switching to save money, but the strategy has failed to address the personnel shortage that is driving service to deteriorate.
The railways will get an opportunity to make their case during the comment period for the emergency-service plan, which runs through May 23. Meanwhile, the Biden Administration’s blame-shifting on inflation is just not plausible.
Review & Outlook: Following the leak of a draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade, the Democratic Party sees an opportunity to divert the public’s attention from the rising cost of living. Images: Bloomberg Composite: Mark Kelly
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The “2021 inflation” is a topic that has been brought up lately. It’s the first time in over 10 years that we have seen such a low figure.
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