Freight Rail Industry Planning Record Investment in 2012

An increase in American exports is helping drive a record-level of new investment in freight rail, according to a news release by the Association of American Railroads.

A Chicago freight yard. Freight rail is planning a record level of investment in the coming year. Photo: Railway-Technology.com

The railroad industry is planning a $13 billion investment in the nation’s freight rail network in 2012. That would round out the biggest three-year period of investment in history, according to the organization.

The investment binge is brought on by a recovering US economy, a spokesman for the organization said. Much of the investment is in multi-modal facilities that will help facilitate truck to train transport. New investments will also expand service to the nation’s ports.

“Unlike trucks, barges or airlines, America’s freight railroads operate on infrastructure they own, build and maintain themselves so taxpayers don’t have to,” said Edward Hamberger, AAR president and CEO. “These investments help businesses get their goods to market more efficiently and affordably, so they too can innovate, invest and hire. That’s how freight rail spurs the American economy and supports jobs all across the country.”

Freight rail is expected to hire 15,000 workers this year. This includes replacing retiring workers as well as adding new employees.

A spokesman for the organization said some companies are shifting from trucking to freight rail, but there are a number of complicated factors that have contributed to increased demand. For example, whether companies choose freight rail over trucking depends a lot on the commodity being shipped, she said.