The National Industrial Transportation League said it will continue to work toward getting its members more access to competitive rail service.
NIT League President Bruce Carlton said at a press conference at the league's annual meeting on Monday that he was disappointed with the decision by the Surface Transportation Board earlier this month to postpone making a decision on the league's petition to change the rules on reciprocal switching so that captive shippers served by only one railroad can get access to competing railroads, but said the league would continue to press the issue.
"We are not giving up the flag. We planted this flag and there is no way to step back from it and we will work as a leadership team to map the next move," he said. "In freight rail, which our members depend on tremendously, we need a greater degree of competition so that the market can be more engaged in the pricing and service combinations that are supposed to be negotiated between the customer and the Class 1 carrier."
"We do not dislike the Class 1 carriers. There is a misperception out there that the League is somehow anti-railroad. Our members depend on railroads. But there is a mantra in the League that competition is a really good thing. These folks live with competition every day in their own industry. They work in a competitive transportation market in trucking and ocean shipping and barging, but in freight rail, if you are a captive shipper, the competition is not there."
Carlton said the League's petition with the STB was very conservative--"we are not asking for open access or forced access or a nationalization of the railroad, we are looking to carve at the margin a competitive component where it can work."
Anne Ferro, the administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration spoke to NIT League members at a luncheon on Sunday, but Carlton said she "gave nothing away" on where a review of proposed changes in trucker hours of service by the Office of Management and Budget is.
"Safety is paramount, but we also need to be globally competitive and it is just going to exacerbate the shortages that already exist for drivers and there is no way that this can be good for the economy as a whole," said Terry Bunch, the chairman of the NIT League.
Carlton said shippers are "sacred to death that it is going to take a bad situation a whole lot worse on dollars and cents without an equal contribution to safety."
Wednesday the NIT League will be participating in the first annual meeting of the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) since the group was formally incorporated earlier this year.
Chris Welsh, the secretary general of the group said 50 delegates from shippers organizations from around the world are expected to participate.
The GSF issued a briefing note on maritime emissions in advance of the meeting, reviewing proposals put forth by various nations and organizations to reduce the greenhouse gases emissions by the shipping industry.
Welsh noted that one of the major reasons that the GSF had incorporated was so that it could have a seat at the table before international bodies such as the International Maritime Organization that are grappling with this issue and others that affect shippers.
The GSF does not take a position on favoring any one proposal for reducing CO2, but he was critical of a proposal supported by the International Chamber of Shipping for an bunker levy saying it could "leave shippers footing the bill of up to $20 billion a year," enough to boost freight rates five percent.
He said the GSF was attracted to schemes that encourage voluntary measures to reduce emissions through improved designs of ships. - Chris Dupin