Freight rail deregulation: Past experience and future reforms

In Politics by Michael Rae


Railroads were the first industry to face national industrial regulation, beginning with the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887. In the early 20th century, the common carrier rules imposed on railroads were applied in a similar fashion to motor carriers, pipelines, and telecommunications. The stringency of these rules on freight rail gradually increased for two generations despite vast changes to the economic landscape that resulted in growing competition from less-regulated modes of transportation.

By the middle of the 20th century, economic regulation began to take its toll on the railroad industry, favoring its fast-growing competitors in highway trucking and passenger aviation.