|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Arlington, VA – Today, National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Jennifer Gibson submitted written testimony on behalf of NACD and its member as part of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials hearing titled, “Getting Back on Track: Exploring Rail Supply Chain Resilience and Challenges.”
“While problems within the country’s supply chains have received increased attention since the COVID-19 pandemic and the tragic East Palestine, Ohio, derailment, these issues have existed for over a decade,” Gibson wrote. “In particular, freight rail service has declined considerably, disrupting efficient deliveries of raw materials and finished goods, especially after the adoption of precision scheduled railroading (PSR). Numerous NACD members have experienced unreliable rail service for years, and these issues have no sign of ceasing. Indeed, for many members the situation continues to worsen.”
In the testimony, Gibson highlighted recent data that demonstrates the disastrous impacts of the PSR system. This includes a report released in December by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found there was an increase in train length, a reduction in staff, and a loss in assets.
On Train Length: “Of the Class I railroads surveyed in the report, one reported a more than eight times increase (three percent to 25 percent) in the percentage of trains over 10,000 feet long and another Class I reported a more than 20 times increase (0.2 percent to about five percent). These trains are nearly two miles in length, making it exceedingly difficult for crewmembers to identify problems that may arise while trains are in service.”
On Workforce Reduction: “The report found at least a 20 percent decrease in staff in every employment classification category,” continued Gibson. “This not only creates service concerns, as there are fewer employees to oversee the fluid transport of trains, but there are also significant safety concerns, as there are fewer crewmembers to notice issues while the train is in transit and to conduct inspections before trains leave the yard.”
Gibson called on the Subcommittee and Congress to address some of the freight rail system’s significant safety concerns, which have resulted in a serious deterioration in service.
“While railroads have continued to operate under the status quo, accepting these incidents as a cost of doing business, NACD urges Congress to act and make the freight rail industry safer and more efficient. Poor rail service has been a significant contributor to the severe supply chain problems that have plagued American businesses and consumers in recent months and years.”
Gibson concluded, “NACD members need reliable, efficient, and affordable rail service to run their businesses successfully and serve their customers. NACD looks forward to the work being done by the Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee to investigate rail supply chain issues.”
To read the full written testimony submitted for the record, click here.
NACD and its over 400 member and Affiliate companies are vital to the chemical supply chain providing products to over 750,000 end users. NACD members are leaders in health, safety, security, and environmental performance through implementation of Responsible Distribution, established in 1991 as a condition of membership and a third party-verified management practice. For more information on NACD, visit www.nacd.com.