Frank N. Wilner

Frank N. Wilner

Frank N. Wilner is author of six books, including, Amtrak: Past, Present, Future; Understanding the Railway Labor Act; and, Railroad Mergers: History, Analysis, Insight. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics and labor relations from Virginia Tech. He has been assistant vice president, policy, for the Association of American Railroads; a White House appointed chief of staff at the Surface Transportation Board; and director of public relations for the United Transportation Union. He is a past president of the Association of Transportation Law Professionals.

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Wednesday, 14 January 2015 10:07

A second act at STB for Dan Elliott?

Proving once again he has more lives than cartoon character Wile E. Coyote, former Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairman Dan Elliott is poised to receive his second White House renomination. The first renomination expired with adjournment of the 113th Congress in December after the Senate failed to confirm him. A formal announcement of the second renomination will be made this week.

Monday, 12 January 2015 09:40

New chiefs ID'd for FRA, AAR law department

As the White House considers candidates for Senate confirmation as the next Federal Railroad Administrator, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says he will name his Department of Transportation chief of staff Sarah Feinberg — a long-time Democratic operative with strong White House ties — as acting administrator upon the voluntary departure this week of FRA chief Joe Szabo.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014 10:56

Hello? It's Dan Elliott for President Obama

News item: Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairman Dan Elliott was forced to bid adieu Dec. 31, 2014, after the Senate failed to confirm his renomination. President Obama still could make a recess appointment prior to a Republican controlled Senate sworn-in Jan. 6.

What does Senate Republican control and the largest House Republican majority since the 1940s mean for railroad reregulation, Amtrak’s future, high- and higher-speed rail, transit funding, Positive Train Control (PTC), corporate tax reform, short line tax credits, the future of coal, and a minimum crew-consist mandate?

Unraveling the knot restricting rail network fluidity cannot be achieved through Surface Transportation Board (STB) intimidation of rail CEOs, or by the agency's issuance of an emergency service order instructing one railroad to operate over the tracks of another, or by merging the nation's seven major rail systems into a North American duopoly.

"Tawdry," is how one Washington transportation attorney describes the self-interest assaults by powerful congressional lawmakers on federal regulatory agency officials.

Wednesday, 03 September 2014 07:26

Rail revenue adequacy? Well, sort of


The Surface Transportation Board (STB) ruled Sept. 2 that five Class I railroads—BNSF, U.S. affiliates of Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific—are revenue adequate. That is, they achieved a rate of return on investments used to provide railroad service that is at least equal to the average cost of that investment capital.

Monday, 18 August 2014 12:50

BLET in catbird seat over crew consist

News item: Vouchsafed to work jointly in gaining legislation or regulation mandating two crew members on every freight train are the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union (SMART) and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET).

Monday, 07 July 2014 09:57

STB's newest: Status quo beware

Moving homogeneous electrons through wires, or freight in trucks over publicly financed highways, is hardly akin to moving cargo over privately owned and maintained railroads.

Thursday, 27 March 2014 08:01

Shipper hypocrisy mocks regulatory history

A recurring and intractable thread tying together railroad history is that when the choice has been between economic liberty and government intrusion, selecting the latter has repetitively discouraged capital investment, diminished service quality, adversely affected safety, and sooner than later caused hand-wringing among those most dependent on rail transportation.

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