The Association of American Railroads has announced that the nation’s freight railroads in 2011 are planning to spend a record $12 billion on capital expenditures, after setting a record with $10.7 billion in capital spending in 2010.
According to the Great Expectations 2011, Railroads and Continued U.S. Economic Recovery report, these investments are potentially threated by regulatory and legislative policies being considered in Washington, D.C.
“Even during the worst recession in a generation, freight railroads have been plowing record amounts of private capital back into the rail network each and every year, achieving one of the highest capital investment rates of any U.S. industry,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “A regulatory framework that provides certainty will foster continued economic recovery and job creation.”
The AAR reports that “while President Obama and other leaders have called upon private companies to increase capital spending and rev up hiring, the nation’s freight railroads have been spending record sums of private capital on the rail network and bringing people back to work. Railroad hiring at the end of 2010 was up 5.2 percent over the year before, according to the report, and railroads are positioned to hire more workers in the coming years.”
“The President has issued a clear call to American businesses, urging them to get off the sidelines and get back in the game by investing capital and hiring,” Hamberger said. “Freight railroads have been in the game for the past 30 years, investing more than $480 billion to build and maintain America’s freight rail network with private capital, and supporting jobs all across the country. Freight railroads have a great track record and are ready to continue investing in the national rail network so U.S. taxpayers don’t have to. But, we must have a regulatory framework that supports, and does not hinder, private investment.”
“President Obama recognises the role businesses play in putting our economy back on track, and his Executive Order pledging to review and eliminate onerous regulations that stymie growth and economic competitiveness is a significant step in the right direction,” Hamberger said, noting that AAR and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently agreed to undertake a review of the most expensive federal mandate in U.S. railroad history – the agency’s final regulations for implementing positive train control. Under a settlement between the railroads and FRA, the agency will issue a new notice of proposed rulemaking addressing areas within the final PTC rule.
“Ultimately, the regulatory environment in Washington, D.C., must be aligned to support freight rail’s continued investments in the national rail network,” Hamberger said. “Now is the time to revisit what regulations stand in the way of reaching our goals, while preserving those that help ensure continued success and growth.”