Ethanol, while it does not have to be transported by rail, economics say it must be. For a moment, replace units moving ETOH with truck. That is almost 250 trucks, good luck with that. We ship 4 units per week from our area on UP alone, most to the east coast. Combine CN, CP (ex-ICE/DME), and BNSF, you have clogged roads. This is why there are 10,000 tank cars built since 2001 for ethanol service.
Now for C.U.R.E. I don't have time for them. Are there pricing issues? Yes. Are they captive? Not in the strongest sense of the word. But is it worth to re-regulate the industry over these issues? No.
Railroads have made great strides in modernization, and invested billions since Staggers. Where new traffic has occurred, such as ethanol, they have been able to move quickly and invest where they needed it. So long as, there is enough to pay the way. And that is the whole point of contention with folks like C.U.R.E. They expect a rate, sometimes the same level as 1984, with the same service or better, which will today not cover the investment to continue that service. (A lot of coal contracts for example, originated back when the PRB was just beginning to open up with the arrival of CNW as a competitor to BN. The first train to move on CNW/WRPI was in 1984. Many 20 year contracts as a result of competition were issued. By 2004, many of those contracts started expiring. Some utilities went to BN, or vise versa to try and control increases of rates. But in the last few years, rates on both carriers out of the PRB via UP or BNSF, were about the same. So are the costs. )
The same folks backing C.U.R.E. also were very vocal supporters of the DM&E PRB project, in word only of course. Twelve yeas later, there is no DM&E route out of the PRB, primarily, becuase those who wanted the cheap rates, would not make the investment. They had a chance to put their money where their mouths were.