The American Chemistry Council (ACC) and its member companies responded to the announcement of a new agreement between railroads and rail labor that averts a potential catastrophic shutdown of the rail network. Chris Jahn, president and chief executive officer of the ACC, thanked the railroads, unions and the White House for their work in reaching an agreement.

“We commend the railroads and the unions for staying at the table to reach an agreement that satisfies both parties and congratulate them on this important agreement,” said Jahn. “We also thank the White House for understanding a shutdown of the rail network was unacceptable and appreciate the Administration’s commitment to facilitating a solution.”

“This agreement helps put one major problem to rest, but we’re certainly not out of the woods yet. The fact remains that Congress and the Surface Transportation Board have more work to do to resolve the freight rail problems that are continuing to put the brakes on the U.S. economy and prolonging the supply chain crisis.”

Freight rail is critical to ACC’s members and chemical manufacturing. About 2.2 million carloads of chemicals were shipped in 2021 alone–representing 20% of the total volume of chemicals transported in the United States, supporting jobs and economic activity in industries that depend on chemical products that move by rail. Over the past year, ACC has conducted several member surveys to track supply chain and freight rail-related service problems. The results of those surveys have found that freight rail service has continued to worsen, which has forced chemical manufacturers to curtail production and shipments, explore other modes of transportation, and, in some cases, add rail cars to their fleets.

ACC says solving these problems should be of great importance to everyone and a top priority for policymakers. According to ACC, there is plenty of evidence to show that the status quo is not working, and the country needs better and smarter freight rail policies. ACC and other rail customers are calling on Congress to pass the Freight Rail Shipping Fair Market Act and the Surface Transportation Board to adopt regulatory reforms, including service standards and providing greater access to competitive rail service through reciprocal switching.

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