Freight rail stands as a pillar of the U.S. economy–moving cargo, serving businesses and enriching our way of life. In particular, freight railroads distinguish themselves on infrastructure from other modes because they’re paying to maintain and enhance their lines with little help from taxpayers.
The ripple effect of these investments cannot be understated. Enhanced rail operations in Florida mean that our ports can move more imports and exports, and meet the increased demand of an expanded Panama Canal. For every dollar freight railroads spend on building, maintaining and enhancing America’s 140,000-mile rail network, $10 is generated in economic impact, according to recent research from Towson University.
The study, which for the first time ever quantifies the economic impact of freight rail’s private investments, finds that major U.S. rail carriers generated $33 billion in local, state and federal taxes and produced $274 billion in economic activity in 2014 alone. Railroad investments surpass $600 billion since 1980 and are expected to reach $26 billion in 2016.
Freight railroads are already a major contributor to Florida’s economy, both in terms of the direct high-paying jobs they provide and the jobs and industries they support. The study also finds that 1.5 million jobs nationwide are tied to rail spending. In fact, every job in the freight rail industry supports nine more across the economy. In Florida, home to CSX headquarters in Jacksonville, nearly 5,000 rail employees work on the state’s 14 freight railroads.
The study links the success of this powerful economic engine to the Staggers Rail Act of 1980, which created a balanced regulatory framework that allowed railroads to run like businesses and earn enough capital to invest back into their network.
GoRail unites rail stakeholders with community leaders and the public in support of rail solutions to tomorrow’s transportation challenges. For more information visit www.gorail.org