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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Short-line association stresses tax credit legislation at 'Day on the Hill'


Yesterday, American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) members joined more than 300 representatives from other sectors of the rail industry at the Railroad Day on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Members of the association — a Day on the Hill sponsor — stressed the importance of federal funding and assistance for short-line infrastructure improvement projects, such as the Short Line Rehabilitation Tax Credit that’s set to expire at year’s end.

“The stimulus package overlooks the critical role played by private freight railroads in our economy, and the potential economic benefit of investment in freight upgrades,” said ASLRRA President Richard Timmons in a prepared statement.

Legislation recently introduced by Reps. Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), H.R. 1132, and by Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), S. 461, propose to extend short lines’ tax credits from Dec. 31, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2012. In addition, the bills would enable short lines to claim a tax credit of 50 cents for every dollar spent on infrastructure improvements up to a cap of $4,500 per mile of owned or leased track instead of the current $3,500 cap.

Shipper coalition Saving our Service supports the legislation, ASLRRA said.

“The short line tax credit helped us lower our transportation costs and sell more lumber to more customers,” said George Bonner, director of transportation for Portland’s Hampton Lumber, which is a coalition member. “We are one of the largest employers in rural Oregon and an efficient local railroad like the Portland & Western Railroad helps keep it that way.”

Meanwhile, attendees from other sectors of the rail industry — including those from fellow Day on the Hill sponsors the Association of American Railroads (AAR), Railway Supply Institute, Railway Tie Association, Railway Engineering-Maintenance Suppliers Association, Railway Systems Suppliers Inc. and National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association — briefed congressional members and their staffs on the importance of freight rail, including its impact on and effects from the economy.

Attendees also encouraged lawmakers to support investment incentives that will stimulate the rail network’s growth and back public-private partnership projects.

“Business and government must partner if we are to help get America back on track,” said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger. “All efforts should be focused on how to grow the nation’s rail networks so more people and more goods can move by rail.”