With the 2023 hurricane season now upon us, Representative Byron Donalds (R-FL) has reintroduced the Short Line Railroad Relief Act, which looks to secure disaster relief for short line railroads.
Short line railroads play a huge factor in the supply chain as they provide an important attachment to the rest of the country’s rail network. When natural disasters like hurricanes mess up the infrastructure, it can cause huge logistical problems.
“Just months ago, Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida, causing historic devastation in our community," said Rep. Donalds. "Among one of the hardest hit entities in Southwest Florida was the Seminole Gulf Railway–which incurred catastrophic damage. When a storm of this magnitude hits any area of our nation, it is the federal government's responsibility to make available the necessary resources to rebuild and restore vital components of a community. As Hurricane Season 2023 begins, it is imperative that we establish a means in which America's short line railroads can receive critical relief in the event of natural disasters."
Moreover, short line railroads keep costs downs for small business railroad companies (over 600 exist in the U.S. alone). If freight cannot be moved on the tracks due to a disaster, then companies would be forced to move their cargo on the highway which would cost four to six times more per shipment, according to the Donalds press release.
“Currently, federal programs fail to provide short line railroads with immediate financial relief after natural disasters. Commercial insurance for short lines is also often unavailable, doesn’t provide adequate coverage following a natural disaster, or is unaffordable at a viable rate for small businesses,” mentioned the press release. “Short line railroads are generally one natural disaster away from being forced to close shop, which would ultimately result in gaping holes and negative impacts throughout our country’s volatile supply chain.”
This bill is the 33rd piece of legislation that Donalds has introduced during the 118th Congress. It was co-sponsored by Representatives Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Randy Feenstra (R-IA), Mike Bost (R-IL), Mary Miller (R-IL), Jake LaTurner (R-KS), Tracey Mann (R-KS), Jack Bergman (R-MI), Brad Finstad (R-MN), Chuck Edwards (R-NC), Don Bacon (R-NE) and Troy Nehls (R-TX).