Getting Back on Track: Exploring Rail Supply Chain Resilience and Challenges

2167 Rayburn House Office Building

f t # e
0 Thursday, May 11, 2023 @ 02:00 | Contact: Justin Harclerode 202-225-9446

This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials.

Official Transcript

Witness list:

  • Chuck Baker, President and CEO, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) | Written Testimony
  • Chris Jahn, President and CEO, American Chemistry Council (ACC) | Written Testimony
  • Ian Jefferies, President and CEO, Association of American Railroads (AAR) | Written Testimony
  • Greg Regan, President, Transportation Trades Department (TTD), AFL-CIO | Written Testimony
  • Marc Scribner, Senior Transportation Policy Analyst, Reason Foundation | Written Testimony

Opening remarks, as prepared, from Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chairman Troy Nehls (R-TX) from today’s hearing, entitled “Getting Back on Track: Exploring Rail Supply Chain Resilience and Challenges”:

The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to ripple through supply chains and transportation modes, including freight railroads. The supply chain situation boiled over into a full-blown crisis last year as the Biden Administration sat idle and helpless to fix the problem. 

This Committee has closely followed the supply chain crisis and reviewed ways to address the problem and provide Americans with some much-needed relief. The full Committee previously examined the impacts of COVID-19 on supply chains, including in our first hearing this Congress.

The Committee also held hearings on Surface Transportation Board (STB) proposals and activities aimed at addressing rail service challenges. In his testimony before the Committee last year, STB Chair Martin Oberman advised that the Board has the tools and authorities necessary to address rail service issues, and we look forward to tracking those initiatives.

I also believe it is important to highlight how some of the current Administration’s policies have contributed to ongoing supply chain challenges. Vaccine mandates, which just today the White House finally sunset, excessive government transfer payments that incentivized people not to work, and an infrastructure law that prioritizes green projects over those that add real capacity to transportation modal networks, continue to impact the supply chain.

Our hearing today will examine the state of freight railroad transportation networks and ongoing supply chain challenges. As examined in previous supply chain hearings, freight rail remained comparatively resilient.

However, it still encounters many challenges that are both unique to and common across all freight transportation modes. Our freight railroads are integral to our Nation’s economy, carrying nearly one-third of the Nation’s freight.

Freight also makes up a significant part of our international trade portfolio – carrying over 40 percent of freight rail carloads and intermodal units, which accounts for more than a quarter of United States rail tonnage.  

Railroads are in the process of re-hiring furloughed workers and are actively training new employees to expand freight capacity. Today, the Subcommittee will hear from our witnesses about the current challenges to the freight rail industry in meeting supply chain goals and ongoing efforts to address these issues.

f t # e