Last week the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing to address the challenges of creating 21st century infrastructure for the American people. The focus of this hearing was on our rail infrastructure, and the need for continued investment in updating this vital part of so many Americans’ daily lives. Our extensive array of railroads now handles 2,200 trains every day, double the number of trains since 1976. And the demand will only grow, as the Federal Highway Administration forecasts a 41% rise in freight tonnage by 2040.
Thankfully, railroads have been getting ready for tomorrow, today. A majority of our freight railroads are privately owned, meaning that companies operate on assets that they’ve built, managed, and paid for themselves. These types of public-private partnerships are a tremendous way to save the taxpayer money, while also encouraging investment in important infrastructure projects. The freight railroad industry recognizes the need to stay modern amid changing economic times, and have been spending more in recent years than ever before. Between 2012 and 2016, the freight rail industry spent $135 billion – approximately $74 million per day – on repairs and improvements.
Our railroads are the backbone of our shipping industry, and without up to date, safe, and efficient means of transporting goods from one part of the country to another, we will fail to fully capitalize on our economic potential. The GAIN coalition is glad to see lawmakers in Washington address this issue, and we’re thrilled that such beneficial action is already being taken to invest in our rail infrastructure.