The Association of American Railroads sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump's transition team, calling for policy reforms that would benefit the freight rail industry, according to The Hill.
The trade group, which represents that industry as well as Amtrak, wrote, "A critical component of our national infrastructure is the freight rail industry, which generated $274 billion in economic activity in 2014 while supporting almost 1.5 million jobs throughout the country. As the transition team begins laying the groundwork for investing in other areas of our infrastructure, freight railroads can serve as an example of how smart investments can spur huge economic impacts."
Edward Hamberger, the group's president and CEO, urged the Trump administration to add five members to the Surface Transportation Board who are "committed to sound economic principles and understand that freight rail regulations impact the entire economy," the Hill reports.
That board has three members now, but is allowed five and according to the Hill, Hamberger urged the president to appoint two more: "Only when equipped with a full, five member board, should the STB proceed with major rule makings."
The association's message also called for overhauling the regulatory system based data and cost-effectiveness, avoiding more mandated safety rules, and focusing on performance and new technology.
Sustainable funding for infrastructure must be a priority, the message said. "The tradition in which users of freight infrastructure pay for that infrastructure should not be broken, and a Trump administration should seriously consider solutions such as a weight distance fee to establish a truly equitable system," Hamberger's message said.
Trump proposed a $1 trillion plan focusing on infrastructure, but it contained few specifics. "It's got to be fiscally responsible," Republican House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster said.
Amtrak's CEO Charles "Wick" Moorman addressed Trump's plans for infrastructure during a Nov. 17 appearance on "CBS This Morning." "I think what the (Trump) administration is talking about in terms of infrastructure investment is absolutely critical, not just for Amtrak but for our country," Moorman said.
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