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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

U.S. railroads need to invest $135 billion over next 30 years to address capacity constraints, AAR study shows


Capacity long has topped U.S. freight railroads’ list of concerns. Not so much where and how to expand it but how to pay for it. Now, railroads know what the total price tag is to address capacity constraints during the next 30 years: $135 billion.

Cambridge Systematics recently completed the National Rail Freight Infrastructure Capacity and Investment Study commissioned by the Association of American Railroads (AAR) that shows railroads will need to invest that much to build more track, bridges, tunnels, signals, terminals and other facilities. They’ll need the additional capacity because freight transportation demand is expected to double within 30 years.

The study also recommends that existing capacity be maintained for Amtrak and commuter railroads.

“If needed investment isn’t made, most of the increase in freight will move on highways, further stressing overburdened roads and bridges,” AAR officials said in a prepared statement. “However, if the investments are made, the freight-rail industry will be able to significantly lower transportation-generated emissions, reduce highway congestion, and ease wear and tear on highway infrastructure.”

The AAR will submit the study to the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, which was established by Congress to issue a report on the nation’s future transportation needs and the cost to address those needs.

The AAR will release more information on the study at a press conference to be held tomorrow in Washington, D.C. The conference will be attended by AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Edward Hamberger; Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Railroad Subcommittee; and Cambridge Systematics Project Manager David Hunt. Amtrak President and CEO Alexander Kummant also has been invited to speak.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/19/2007