Tester demands fix for freight rail system

Montana Senator sponsors legislation calling for more competition

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Montana Senator and grain farmer Jon Tester this week demanded changes to America's freight rail system to ensure fair shipping prices for producers who rely on railroads to ship their products.

Tester, joined by a bipartisan group of Senators, will introduce legislation that will improve the competitiveness of America's freight rail system.  The Railroad Competition and Service Improvement Act will address the steep rates that Montana's producers pay because they have few if any choices to ship their products by rail.

Tester joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers and the organization Consumers United for Rail Equity (CURE) to draw attention to railroad monopolies that lead to unfair rates for shipping services.

"Right now folks who work the fields and businesses across Montana are held captive by high shipping rates," Tester said. "It's unfair and it's high time we make some changes to fix it."

Hundreds of people affected by captive shipping rates across the country are visiting Capitol Hill this week to voice support for reforming America's freight rail system.

Currently the nation's railroad industry is run by only a few large companies.  The monopolies result in unreliable delivery and high costs for farmers, businesses and consumers—all a result of a lack of competition.

The current system also leads to longer transit times and tight freight car supplies.

"America's freight rail system is broken. Competition has dried up," Tester said. "It's time to fix it fast.  Too many people across this country are paying too high a price.  The legislation that I introduced gets right to core of the problem."

Joining Tester for Thursday's news conference were Senators David Vitter, R-La., Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Rep. Richard Baker, D-La.