American agriculture uses freight train cars on the nation’s railroads to ship countless numbers of commodities to ports for overseas shipping. The Washington Post says freight railroads lost out to Amtrak in a recent dispute that went before the Surface Transportation Board this week.
The dispute was over whether or not Amtrak’s passenger trains have an absolute right of way over cargo trains. The Transportation Board withdrew a proposal supported by the freight industry that would have altered the law giving passenger trains preference over cargo carriers. Amtrak feels current law says their trains have an absolute right to go first over cargo carriers.
The freight industry said they interpret the law as more of a ‘preference,’ meaning the freight needs should be taken into account against the passenger industry, making decisions more balanced.
In December, the Transportation Board issued a proposal to define the term ‘preference’ as not being absolute, which meant they seemed willing to give some preference to the freight industry. After the proposal was withdrawn, the freight industry said it will comply with current law while assessing its legal options.