Support for Freight Rail Drives Jobs, U.S. Economic Recovery

Support for Freight Rail Drives Jobs, U.S. Economic Recovery

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Feb. 25, 2010 – Supporting a healthy national rail network is vital to sustaining more than a million jobs and powering U.S economic recovery, is the message more than 500 freight rail employees, local businesses and elected officials will deliver to Congress today as part of the rail industry’s annual “Railroad Day on Capitol Hill” event.

Rail supporters want policy makers to know that freight railroads generate nearly $265 billion in total annual economic activity and that every freight rail job supports an additional 4.5 jobs elsewhere in the economy.

“Sometimes when new federal polices are formulated, the true impacts on American businesses and consumers are not fully taken into account,” said Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Who better to tell members of Congress of these impacts and importance of freight rail, than the employees, businesses and local elected officials that work hard every day to deliver on freight rail’s vital role in the nation’s economic recovery.”

“The federal government encouraged the creation of short line railroads to preserve freight service, and in doing so has facilitated the industry’s growth to 552 short line railroads that support tens of thousands of jobs,” said Richard F. Timmons, president of the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. “Federal policies like the short-line tax credit will enable companies to make over $330 million in track upgrades each year, and support thousands of new jobs in the rail industry.”

“Supporting funding for rail is a good investment in America’s future,” said Anne Canby, President of the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and founding member of OneRail, a coalition advocating for policies for passenger and freight rail. “Improving the nation's rail infrastructure will create vital jobs, de-congest chokepoints, put more freight and passengers on fuel-efficient trains, and reduce our nation's greenhouse gas emissions.” OneRail brings together freight and passenger rail, transit, as well as environmental and labor groups. In this vein, Canby urged Congress to continue to make rail-related projects eligible for federal funding, such as infrastructure programs in the jobs bill currently moving through the Senate.

“Our community would not be what it is today without the railroads that connect our local manufacturing plants to global markets,” said Mayor Drew Ferguson of West Point, Ga., one of the 23 representatives of Go21 attending Railroad Day. “Access to railroads was a significant factor in Kia’s decision to locate in West Point.” Go21 comprises more than 1,200 state and local policy and business leaders from across the nation who support freight rail as a solution to problems related to highway congestion and the environment.

Among various policies that support the advancement of freight rail, the groups urged members of Congress to support the following:

Investment Tax Credit: H.R. 1806 is a bipartisan bill in the House calling for a 25 percent investment tax credit for targeted spending on locomotives, railroad track, intermodal facilities and other infrastructure projects that expand rail capacity. The bill outlines that any business that makes these investments – not just railroads – would be eligible for the tax credit.

Short Line Tax Credit: S. 461 and H.R. 1132 would extend the Section 45G tax credit which supports over $330 million in infrastructure improvements made each year by short lines, contractors, suppliers, and rail customers. The credit expired on Dec. 31, 2009.

Railroad Day on Capitol Hill participants include the Association of American Railroads, the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association, the OneRail Coalition, the Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association, the Railway Supply Institute, the Railway Systems Suppliers Inc., the Railway Tie Association, the Sheet Metal Workers International Association, the Transportation Communications Union and the United Transportation Union.