Westmoreland discusses rail industry in Georgia

Written by Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor
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From left to right: Director of Federal Affairs of CSX Stephen Flippin, Group President and CEO of Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia and Kia Motors America Byung Mo Ahn, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, Vice President of STX Daniel Stout, Manager of CSX Scott Routzahn.

U.S. Representative Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) joined local officials and representatives from the offices of Senators Chambliss and Isakson, the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association, STX Railroad Construction, CSXT and Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia to discuss the

positive impact railroads have on Georgia’s economy and how they can continue to keep Georgia businesses running. The congressman attended a briefing by STX, CSXT and Kia followed by a tour of the Kia plant and a tour of the rail yard.

“I would like to thank Kia for hosting this event,” stated Rep. Westmoreland. “It was very educational and a great way to learn more about the railroad industry in Georgia. It was especially helpful to see a first-hand example of how a Georgia business and the railroad industry can work together so that both can achieve success. Railroads provide critical assistance to Georgia businesses. The more than 4,600 miles of freight railroad track in our state help bring much needed materials and goods in and helps them to ship their products out. The way Kia has utilized Georgia’s railroad system is a model that other Georgia businesses can use to grow and thrive.”

During the briefing and tour, rail officials discussed the importance of small freight railroads in Georgia and provided an overview of how businesses like Kia work hand in hand with the rail industry. For example, Kia ships 58 percent of its cars out via railroad. That means CSXT is transporting on average 60 rail cars a day, or around 25,000 rail cars per year from the Kia assembly center out to Kia dealerships around the country.

“In 2011, rail moved one ton of freight an average of 469 miles per gallon, about the distance from Atlanta to Tampa on one gallon of fuel,” stated Rep. Westmoreland. “On average, that makes railroads four times more fuel efficient than trucks. At a time when we continue to see high energy costs, this is a great way for businesses to lower their costs but still get their products where they need to go. In addition, there are more than 6,700 freight rail employees in the state of Georgia earning an average of $97,750 a year including benefits. That means good, high-paying jobs for Georgians who are continuing to suffer through these tough economic times.”

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