The seven largest freight railroads had more workers in their U.S. operations as of mid-March than any time since February 2009, the Surface Transportation Board reported.
Those Class I carriers reported a combined workforce of 155,842, the STB said, up 1,340 from a month earlier and the strongest for any time since the freight rail economy began to recover from the recession in mid-2009.
The jobs gains follow the 1,198 that the Class Is added to their U.S. lines from mid-January to mid-February. But unlike that month, all seven railroads increased jobs in late February through early March.
Top railroads report their employment levels to the STB as of the first mid-month payroll date, and it takes about a month after that for the agency to compile them into a single report.
The latest increases came as freight traffic was picking up from winter lows, but also as the rail network was trying to dig out from a series of winter storms and regain fluidity across the country. The railroads added nearly 700 track maintenance workers and nearly 400 for the much larger category of train crew members.