Thursday, October 18, 2012

OneRail writes Obama and Romney campaigns urging support of rail networks

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The OneRail Coalition, an alliance of freight and passenger stakeholders, has issued letters to the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns emphasizing the importance of the nation's rail networks.

OneRail states the it believes "We believe that transportation infrastructure is an essential underpinning of the entire American economy and that high performing freight and passenger rail lines are an integral part of our nation's transportation system and critical for the continued growth of our country."

In President Obama's letter, the coalition recognized the Obama Administration's work during its first term of the rail industry and re-emphasizes the important role of intercity passenger rail, commuter rail, rail transit and freight rail networks.

The letter to Gov. Romney, who supports the GOP platform adopted at the party's summer convention calling for the privatization and end of federal funding of Amtrak, focused on the association between jobs, infrastructure and economic growth, reading, "Given the well-established link between infrastructure and economic growth, we are writing to emphasize the importance of America's transportation system and the future of the nation's intercity passenger rail, commuter rail, rail transit, and freight rail networks."

In both letters, which were signed by Ann Canby, director of the coalition, the following appears:

"A broad range of American business, industry, labor, and government groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO, the American Society of Civil Engineers, Building America's Future, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the National Governors Association, in addition to government commissions including the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission and the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Commission, have all determined that we must maintain and improve our transportation infrastructure system to strengthen economic growth, improve our global competitiveness, and make it easier for businesses to create jobs.

"The most recent surface transportation measure, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), was a positive step forward. However, to fully integrate rail into the nation's transportation system and enhance public and private investment into rail infrastructure, more work remains to be done.

"While the nation's privately owned freight railroads are investing billions in their own infrastructure – over $23 billion in maintenance and capital spending in 2012 and more than $500 billion since 1980, U.S. public investment in passenger rail infrastructure is lagging behind other nations. Passengers are seeking more frequent and reliable rail service in order to avoid congestion on the highway and in the air, reduce their costs, improve productivity, travel more safely, use energy more efficiently, and reduce our dependence on imported oil.

"Continued investment in transportation infrastructure, particularly rail, will help to keep the United States economically competitive in the global market. Congestion on our highways and in the air costs us $142 billion annually in wasted time and fuel (source: Urban Mobility Report and Congressional Joint Economic Committee). Overall underperformance of the U.S. transportation system costs the U.S. economy almost $1 trillion per year (source: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Transportation Performance Index). The U.S. must increase investment in its transportation infrastructure, particularly rail, to retain our position as the world's best place to do business.

"Placing greater emphasis on investments in the nation's rail infrastructure and operations will spur economic growth and encourage new business development, while adding new jobs and expanding employment opportunities throughout the nation."

OneRail members include the American Public Transportation Association, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, Amtrak, Association of American Railroads, Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen, National Association of Railroad Passengers, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association, Railway Supply Institute, States for Passenger Rail Coalition, Surface Transportation Policy Partnership, Sheet Metal Workers International Association, Transportation Communications International Union/International Association of Machinists and the United Transportation Union. Associate Supporters include AECOM, Alstom, General Electric, HNTB, Parsons, Parsons Brinckerhoff and SYSTRA.

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