By relying on guidance from within the railroad industry, government has failed to adequately address the issues of joint use and roadway/carrier separation. Therefore, most proposals have sought to prop up the existing structure and patch over its deficiencies. It has been expedient to do so.
Government involvement, specifically at the federal level, would be necessary to implement the Free Enterprise Alternative. At a minimum, economic and safety regulatory agencies would need to be realigned to reflect the new structure. In all likelihood, legislation would be needed to implement conversion since the rail industry would not be able to complete reformation under its own volition. The new structure, to be most effective, must include all railroads. Roadway companies must control all roadways in their respective regions, and carriers must have access to all roadways. It would be difficult for the rail industry to operate part under the traditional structure and part under the new structure.
Since government action, particularly legislative action, would be required to implement the new structure, public approval would be an essential element of the implementation process. The national preference for free enterprise and competitive markets should favor the Free Enterprise Alternative once its benefits become known.
Under what conditions would the new structure be a candidate for implementation? In the short term, the new structure can serve as an alternative to nationalization. If one or more large railroads should fail, the new structure would provide a private sector option.
Over the long term--a period of years and even decades--the Free Enterprise Alternative could gain wider acceptance, evolving as did the concept of regulation over a century ago and, more recently, the concept of deregulation. The academic community will play an important role, providing objective examination and critical evaluation not possible in settings dominated by special interests.
With time, the novel and somewhat radical first impression of the new structure can be replaced with studied appraisal. Time will also allow problem areas to be identified and solutions determined. Only through such impartial, objective appraisal can the Free Enterprise Alternative find its proper place, either as a theoretical curiosity or as the blueprint for tomorrow's rail transportation industry.