by QB 52.32
Of course regarding PSR, roads are having a "quick learn" that shippers with high value traffic don't like being dictated to when there are alternatives such as another road or highway. Now so far as "Farmer's Cooperative" elevator in Postville, IA goes, well......Post-Staggers, including any regulatory revisits and in light of PSR, measurement of railroad traffic value and where revisits are being pressed have been further distanced from the value of lading towards the value of markets.
A revisit as a result of service issues comes mainly from Covid & The Great Resignation focused more so in the lesser-lading-value grain/feed, energy, and waste markets than in higher-value products found moving in intermodal and, with exception for "non-PSR" BNSF, the automotive markets.
A revisit as a result of pricing issues is also focused upon the bulk and carload markets primarily as railroads operating under free-market and PSR principles attempt to extract greater value from these lucrative markets to subsidize the less-lucrative but higher-growth-potential intermodal market, replacing most-lucrative coal's diminishing once-highly-valuable role.
In this conversation and others, PSR generalizations have to be unpacked, considering the who, how, and where and against how railroads were already responding to increasing challenges exposing the cracks in the attempt to get to opportunities. Similarly, what constituencies and who among those constituencies are calling for a revisit also needs to be unpacked to see the "cleanliness of their hands".
Post-Staggers it's more about markets and market freedoms where railroads can now negotiate directly with those who foot the bill, differentiate price and service based upon differentiated markets, execute confidential contracts of price and service agreement, and enter/exit/"subcontract" markets. Just like any other for-profit business, they can manage different lines-of-business with differing value in reaching a total value that goes toward their success. For railroads success goes to being able to attract sufficient free-market private capital to long-term invest in their capital-intensive business against a less capital-intense competitor capable of quicker innovation and now showing significant innovative potential to advance competitive advantage most directly against the intermodal market. That's the framework in which a revisit has to be considered and to what extent and how railroads will generate value in decline vs. growth.
As I see it, at this moment in time the history of railroad regulation and Staggers deregulation tells the story of why regulators must be careful and regulation carefully applied when it comes to a revisit. That history also speaks to regulation in light of larger government transportation policy across all modes and including promotion as well, in how railroads could instead look to act responsively more as transportation companies not just tied to one technology, as was once denied and on the road leading to Staggers.