Investments in America’s Freight Rail Network Would Create Thousands of Green Jobs

This report shows that investments in America's freight rail system would create thousands of green jobs, improve the country's infrastructure, reduce dependence on foreign oil and lower carbon emissions.

May 4, 2010

Washington, DC (May 4, 2010) Investments in America’s freight rail system would create thousands of green jobs, improve the country’s infrastructure, reduce dependence on foreign oil and lower carbon emissions, according to a new report released today by the BlueGreen Alliance and the Economic Policy Institute.

Read the report.

The report serves as a guide for policy makers on sustaining and expanding the domestic freight rail network. The report, titled Full Speed Ahead: Creating Green Jobs Through Freight Rail Expansion, shows that the expansion of freight rail in the U.S. can create approximately 7,800 green jobs for every $1 billion of capital invested. If this is expanded to include re-spending by freight rail and supporting industry employees, between 12,300 and 26,600 American jobs would be created or sustained per $1 billion invested.

“Over the past two centuries, rail has helped the United States become the world’s leading economic power,” said David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “As we enter the new clean energy economy, now is not the time to abandon such a profitable, clean and promising industry. It’s a winning situation for everyone – thousands of green jobs are created and we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

“This report affirms the tremendous public benefits that are generated both by freight rail’s inherent fuel efficiency and the industry’s commitment to reinvesting in the nation’s rail network,” said Edward R. Hamberger, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of American Railroads.

In addition to reducing carbon emissions and lessening the dependence on foreign oil, an investment in America’s freight rails will keep the country economically viable in changing times. The United States is expected to invest $150 billion in our infrastructure over the next decade, but the European Union has planned for $300 billion and China has budgeted $200 billion in the same time frame.

Freight rail jobs are green jobs, which are crucial to reducing carbon and saving energy in the transportation sector. Over the past three decades, the industry has nearly doubled the amount of goods it has shipped without increasing fuel consumption, creating a fraction of the pollution of other modes of transportation. For example, TTX Company, which is profiled in the report, has found ways to prevent more than 2.5 billion empty miles per year, and save more than 167 million gallons of fuel annually.

“Freight rail represents a significant opportunity to create good, green jobs while making our transportation system more efficient and sustainable and also helping passenger rail,” said Carl Pope, Executive Chairman of the Sierra Club. “This report shows that expanding freight rail will meet our goals of creating good jobs while helping to reduce our dependence on oil.”

In addition to providing numbers and facts, the report makes a series of policy recommendations for lawmakers, including tax credits for rail capital investments, “Buy American” provisions and ensuring that the jobs created are not outsourced.