AAR calls on U.S. DOT to modernize agency’s overarching regulatory approach

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) filed comments Friday afternoon with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), citing existing rules and other agency actions it asserts that are ideal areas for repeal, replacement, suspension or modification. The AAR submitted the filing pursuant to Executive Order 13,777, a directive from the Trump administration to reform regulatory processes and individual regulations to better serve the public.

The AAR focused principally on the need for a regulatory approach that recognizes the significant private investments made by railroads, including innovative technologies built to improve safety and performance. “The regulatory relief we call for,” reads the filing, “is the license and flexibility to conceive, develop, and deploy innovative technologies and practices where they are effective and efficient, and to be regulated based on our success in achieving safety goals, not by outdated, prescriptive regulations.”

“As evidenced by our filing with the Department of Transportation, the AAR’s previous letter to Deputy Secretary Jeffrey A. Rosen and the continued actions of the AAR and its members, the freight rail industry is a critical partner to the government in improving federal regulation,” said Edward R. Hamberger, President and CEO of the AAR. “We have been clear and consistent in calling for common sense regulatory principles, including that rules should be based on a demonstrated need, as reflected in current and complete data and sound science; and non-prescriptive regulatory tools, like performance-based regulations, should be deployed wherever possible to foster and facilitate innovation to achieve well-defined policy goals.”

Hamberger highlighted these principles and other pressing matters facing the industry Thursday at the RailTrends 2017 Conference in New York City. He relatedly issued a “Washington Outlook” column for the fourth quarter last week.