In this episode, AAI President Diana Moss sits down with two experts to discuss the state of play in competition in freight rail. Freight rail is a vital part of the U.S. transportation system. It is the second largest mode of transportation in the U.S. and industry sources estimate that freight rail shipments will increase 30% by 2040. Railroads, and the shippers that transport on them, are responsible for the movement of critical commodities and products involving agriculture, energy, automotive, chemical, construction, and forestry. But we don’t hear much in the news about competition in freight rail, despite the fact that the sector has been home to massive consolidation over the last half a century. Since about 1950, over 80 railroad mergers were consummated in the U.S. Today, there are only five domestic Class I railroads operating in the U.S.—two in the west, two in the east, and one down the middle. AAI’s guests on this episode are experts in rail competition and they will unpack what consolidation means for shippers and consumers. They start at the 10,000 foot level and take deeper dives into the adverse effects of railroad mergers, remedies for lost competition, and regulatory policy initiatives for addressing competition, such as reciprocal switching, and others.
Russell Pittman earned his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Wisconsin in 1979. He is Director of Economic Research in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and a visiting professor at the Kyiv School of Economics. Dr. Pittman has consulted regularly with antitrust enforcers and economic reformers in transition and developing economies, and has acted as an advisor on railroad restructuring projects in Brazil, China, Mexico, Poland, and Russia. He served on the Core Team of the World Development Report 2002, Building Institutions for Markets. He also served on the team of experts for the Russian Regulatory Reform Review carried out by the OECD and the European Conference of Ministers of Transport in 2003-2004 and was one of the three co-authors of its report, Regulatory Reform of Railways in Russia. He is the author of the chapter on railways in the Oxford Handbook of the Russian Economy (2013). He served on the team of experts for a project of the OECD and the International Transport Forum on freight rail regulation in Mexico, co-authoring two reports, Establishing Mexico’s Regulatory Agency for Rail Transport (2016) and Regulatory Governance of the Rail Sector in Mexico (2020). Most recently he is the author of the chapter on the US in the Handbook on Rail Regulation: Concepts and Practice (2020).
Jeffrey Sloan is a Senior Director for Regulatory Affairs at the American Chemistry Council (ACC), a national association representing the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. He focuses on transportation policy, overseeing a broad range of advocacy initiatives on freight rail and hazmat transportation safety. He is the staff lead for ACC’s Distribution Committee and a member of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee. Jeffrey has been with ACC since 1996, with various roles including Policy Director for ACC’s Chlorine Chemistry Division. Before coming to ACC, he worked as a staff member in the U.S. House Of Representatives. He earned a Master’s degree in Environmental Policy from Indiana University and a Bachelors degree in Political Science from James Madison University.