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This was an eye opener when I read the business news today......I like the Railroads a lot........But if wrong doing is at issue....This could really hurt a lot of Folks........


OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that the details of conversations between the nation's four largest railroads should be included in lawsuits challenging billions of dollars of charges the railroads imposed in the past.

The ruling on Friday undercuts one of the defenses Union Pacific, BNSF, CSX and Norfolk Southern had offered in dozens of lawsuits major companies filed last year questioning the way railroads set rates. The lawsuits say the railroads conspired to boost prices starting in 2003 by imposing coordinated fuel surcharges and pocketing billions of dollars in profits.
The individual major railroads did not immediately respond to questions about the lawsuits on Monday.

The price-fixing allegations have been winding their way through U.S. courts for more than a decade since several companies first filed similar lawsuits in 2007. The cases are moving forward individually after an appellate judge ruled last year that the case didn't qualify for class-action status for as many as 16,000 shippers affected by the rates.
The companies that filed the lawsuits — which include carmakers like Hyundai, a variety of manufacturers such as Campbell Soup and power companies like Dominion Energy — say the four railroads had meetings, phone calls and email communications through which they embarked on the conspiracy to apply the fuel surcharges to all traffic to generate profits.
One of the plaintiffs' attorneys, Stephen Neuwirth, said he's glad the details of those conversations can be presented at trial.

“That evidence establishes that for at least five years, the railroads violated U.S. law by coordinating fuel surcharges as a way to raise rail freight prices,” Neuwirth said.
In the lawsuits, the railroads have argued that their fuel surcharges were legal and were simply designed to recover the skyrocketing cost of fuel at the time.
The railroads had also argued that an obscure law that allows railroads to discuss rates on shipments that cross multiple railroads should have protected their conversations about rates, but the judge rejected that argument on Friday.
In 1980, Congress largely deregulated railroads. That led to a number of consolidations in the industry resulting in the four major railroad shippers that exist today: Norfolk Southern and CSX in the Eastern United States and BNSF and Union Pacific serving much of the West.
Although the companies are individual entities, they are legally allowed to work together to some degree to ensure the continuity of the nation’s railroad network.

Blues Thoughts......3 things are important in Transportation of Goods.......Trucking, Trains, Sea Vessels, Planes..........Like Credit cards in a sense, if you impose certain cost factors by Legal means, in this case Lawsuits, the cost of those actions, can adversely affect the consumer in the Pocketbook........At this time, with Covid, Trade Wars etc......I would think it would be prudent in Business sense to tread carefully when we look at our Economic hit..........

On the other hand, Gauging the Consumer is bad business, especially if you get caught...........Think Enron..........
Gouging the consumer is bad, even if you don't get caught. Companies colluding together to fix prices or charges is called a Cartel and is illegal in most countries. It is in effect a monopoly by agreement if not by ownership.

The fact that a lawsuit against such an illegal practice "can adversely affect the consumer in the Pocketbook" is irrelevant. That viewpoint is effectively saying that they are too big or too important to be subject to the same laws as everyone else. That size or economic power gives you immunity.

My opinions.
Interesting. And since the recession, and especially during covid, it seems like the sidings have been full of parked railroad cars sitting unused. I had heard they were hurting for business.
I get TRAINS magazine which examines the operation and management of railroads. Historically they are almost all mismanaged. Several dumb moves to improve profits actually lost money. Rather than taking actions that attract customer they just make them madder by raising rates or cutting trains. The trucking companies love these guys. And, yes they can collude within some limits. Trucking companies applaud these people.

Example: To make the bar bring in more money they once again raised rates. Customers left and the fools lost money. All they had to do was get a really good bartender, offer some new (expensive drinks) and set out a few snacks.

Amtrak is a real issue since they live off of government subsidies. Other countries run profitable passengers service - USA not so.
In the USA and now elsewhere, many commercial organisations long ago stopped the making of things (goods & services) as their primary concern in favour of making money. Many now collude or lobby successfully for laws to support their ability to establish cabals, syndicates and effective monopolies. Many also suborn governments to obtain tax-funded subsidies based on the notion that they are "too big to fail" - which can be translated to "We're a monopoly so you'll have nowt if we do fail". The banks and other large financial institutions perpetrated the largest of these scams in 2008 and continue to do so. Virtually all commercial organisations avoid paying the wider costs of their activities, such as dealing with their massive generation of pollutants and the associated damage to the environment, including human health and the ever-increasing extinction of thousands of species of plant and animal.

We are all slaves to their greed and hubris.

The planet and everything in or on it is a victim of these money-grubbing gharks & hoos. They are a pestilence but no one is able to rid us of them. Indeed - we are all complicit with their schemes, one way or another. We spend foolishly in their many shops, which are supported by the whole corrupt infrastructure. Trainzing whilst the planet burns, we are.

Still, a few trillionaires can scratch their queer itch. Many admire their scratchings as the ultimate in profitability. Successful, they are - ooooh!

Lataxe, just another consumer-fool like the rest o' ye, soon to be dead of weather, plague or the world-wide spasm of autocracy (aka Big Business run rampant). :)
Other countries run profitable passengers service - USA not so.

True in a few cases - the Japanese High Speed Shinkansen for example but in that case the fare you pay to ride does not cover the cost of the journey. The Japanese government allowed the rail company to buy up all the land around the stations, at rock bottom prices, and build high rise apartment, commercial and retail centres. That is what makes the rail service profitable. The passengers provide the customers for those apartments, commercial businesses and retail shops.

In most other countries the passengers services are subsidised by local, state and federal governments because providing affordable, reliable and adequate commuter and off-peak passenger rail services are seen as a social necessity and as a part of the social contract with their citizens - and that is not socialism, it is common sense. It also occurs in the USA.

My views.
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