Supreme Court justices seem divided over Amtrak's role in developing railroad regulations

IndustrialsAssociated Press

The Supreme Court seems divided on whether Amtrak was allowed to help craft federal regulations over the use of railroad tracks.

The court was hearing arguments Monday over a 2008 law that directed Amtrak to work with government agencies to develop new standards for improving the passenger railroad's on-time performance.

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A group representing the freight railroad industry says it is unconstitutional for Congress to give a private company the power to create regulations. The industry objects to some of the new standards that allow Amtrak to keep its priority over freight trains in using common railroad tracks.

A federal appeals court sided with the freight railroads. But the Obama administration says the government retained ultimate control over the final regulations.

Congress created Amtrak as a for-profit corporation.