Representatives from the nation's freight railroads, labor groups, rail suppliers and state and local officials joined together on March 14, 2013, for the annual Railroad Day on Capitol Hill.
Rail representatives will discuss the need to preserve the current regulatory framework that has allowed the industry to invest billions of dollars into the nation’s rail infrastructure. These groups are urging Congress to continue to support policies that encourage the freight rail industry to deliver safe, reliable and efficient service so that American businesses can successfully compete in the global marketplace.
“Americans whose livelihoods depend on a healthy rail industry want Congress to know that freight rail is working for our country and carrying the investment load so taxpayers don’t have to,” said Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward Hamberger. “Freight rail is the backbone of our nation’s economy and we need to maintain policies that keep that possible.”
Advocates for freight rail will talk to legislators about how rail differs from other modes of surface transportation, most notably that freight rail invests private capital, more than $24 billion this year alone, in its own infrastructure, while other modes of transportation heavily rely on subsidies by taxpayers. When government budgets are tight, rail advocates will assert, it is important to support policies that will encourage railroads to continue private investment.
“As the economy grows and American businesses and manufacturing expands, freight rail continues to deliver for the nation,” Hamberger said. “In addition to investing billions into our physical network, the freight rail industry will be hiring thousands of new employees this year. We want to thank all the representatives, suppliers, advocates and government officials who came to Capitol Hill to tell their story about how freight rail has improved their lives.”
Railroad Day on Capitol Hill participants will also discuss the need to reject potentially dangerous and unfair proposals to increase the truck size and weight allowances. Allowing heavier and larger trucks, rail advocates maintain, will increase the damage big trucks inflect on the nation’s roads and highways while diverting freight traffic from the self-sustaining railroads. The price tag for repairing this damage is shouldered by taxpayers. Rail advocates will make the case for the trucking industry, not general revenue funds, to pay for the wear and tear caused by their trucks.