Detroit, MI – Dan Papineau, Director of Tax Policy & Regulatory Affairs at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, writes about how vital freight rail is to the Michigan economy in a new op-ed for The Detroit News. Papineau highlighted Michigan’s iconic auto industry as one that is no stranger to the benefits of rail.

“Rail has long played an outside role in moving Michigan’s auto industry, from the early 1900s and Henry Ford’s Highland Park assembly plant to today.

Freight trains today move 75% of the over 17 million new cars and light trucks purchased in the U.S. More than this, they’re involved in every stage of auto manufacturing, from hauling the raw iron ore and coke for steel to delivering finished auto parts. This amounted to 1.8 million rail carloads of vehicles and parts in 2018.”

Papineau emphasized the importance of balanced regulation in the freight rail industry. He urged legislators to look to history as a lesson in how smart public policy has helped U.S. freight railroads achieve record successes in safety, productivity and affordability.

“Federal and state policymakers in DC and Lansing should oppose any new policies that would uproot rail’s ability to continue investing at record levels. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark Stagger Rail Act, signed by President Carter, which brought balanced economic regulation to freight rail. In short, it allowed railroads to run their businesses like other companies, setting rates and schedules without government overreach.”

Papineau cites the Staggers Act as a key reason rail shipper rates are 44% lower than they were in 1980. He closes with the reminder that in an ever-changing economy, infrastructure investment must persist.

Read the full Op-ed.