Freight Rail Customer Alliance launches – advocating for rail-dependent shippers

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Farm Forum

WASHINGTON – A long-time advocate for freight rail shippers announced on September 11 a new name and a new advocacy approach.

“The new Freight Rail Customer Alliance (FRCA) is a diverse and broad Washington, D.C.-based alliance for freight rail customers working together across industries to improve access to reliable rail service at competitive prices,” said FRCA President David Sauer, who is also chief operating officer and senior vice president of Dakota Gasification Company (Dakota Gas), Bismarck ND, a subsidiary of Basin Electric Power Cooperative.

The new alliance replaces Consumers United for Rail Equity (CURE), which was founded in 1984 by associations representing coal-burning utilities to advocate for affordable and reliable freight rail service before the U.S. Congress and the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC).

Ann Warner, managing partner of Ann Warner LLC of Alexandria, Va. will serve as FRCA’s first executive director. “FRCA will advocate for much needed reforms and process improvements at the Surface Transportation Board (STB) and common-sense economic reforms that will result in competitive freight rail service and fair prices,” Warner said. “FRCA does not seek economic re-regulation of the railroads; rather it seeks service options and fair prices that are not held to anticompetitive rates or service practices.”

“FRCA has already begun reaching out to organizations representing sectors ranging from alternative energy, chemicals, agriculture, steel, coal, forest & paper, to auto manufacturing,” Warner said. “We will advocate for anyone dependent on freight rail who experiences a negative impact on rates or service due to a lack of competition.”

“With a diverse membership base and by working together, we are in a unique position to impact change and help protect freight rail shippers and their customers,” added Sauer. “Our collective voice is louder, stronger and more impactful when we represent the interests of all industries.”

The announcement is the culmination of a year-long process beginning in 2014 to review CURE’s mission and structure. The review concluded that there is a continued need for congressional and executive branch education and advocacy on behalf of a broad range of freight rail shippers.

Based on these recommendations, CURE’s membership approved a restructuring plan last December that will expand the organization’s membership to increase participation by freight rail shippers in a host of industries and commodities. FRCA will continue the campaign to obtain changes in federal law and policy that would provide all shippers with reliable rail service at competitive prices.

FRCA supports legislation that will provide long-needed reforms at the STB. Such reforms and process enhancements will allow the STB to effectively oversee the freight rail industry resulting in competitive rail service and pricing. FRCA also supports removing the current freight rail exemption from the nation’s antitrust laws.