Rail Investment Can Help Close Jobs Gap, Create A More Efficient Transportation System

Expanding freight rail presents a significant opportunity to support and create quality U.S. jobs while improving the efficiency of freight movement and ensuring the nation remains competitive in the 21st century global economy.

June 15, 2011

BlueGreen Alliance Report Shows 21st Century Transportation Infrastructure Necessary to Create Quality Jobs and Maintain U.S. Global Competitiveness

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 15, 2011) Expanding freight rail presents a significant opportunity to support and create quality U.S. jobs while improving the efficiency of freight movement and ensuring the nation remains competitive in the 21st century global economy, according to a report released today by the BlueGreen Alliance. The BlueGreen Alliance is a national partnership of labor unions and environmental organizations working to expand the number and quality of jobs in the green economy.

“Right now, it is essential that the U.S. build a 21st century transportation infrastructure that supports the more efficient movement of goods. This report demonstrates again the freight rail industry’s ability to sustain private investments in the national rail network that will create quality jobs while reducing pollution and breaking our dependence on foreign oil,” said David Foster, Executive Director of the BlueGreen Alliance. “With 9.1 percent unemployment, we need a national strategy for creating good jobs that will allow the U.S. to remain competitive in a 21st century economy, and freight rail is a key part of that plan.”

Gauging Growth: The Freight Rail Supply Chain and Job-Creation Potential shows that for every $1 billion in freight rail capital investments, approximately 7,800 green jobs are created and an average of 20,000 jobs are supported throughout the domestic economy. The report notes that already, freight rail supports nearly 1.2 million jobs and can create many more by meeting increased demand for cargo movement – by 2015, freight tonnage carried by rail is expected to increase by 20 percent over levels seen in 2009.

Freight railroads invest an average of 17 percent of their revenue in capital needs and expansion, historically directing more than four times the average level of revenue into capital investment compared with other industrial sectors. Freight railroads in 2011 have projected $12 billion in private capital expenditures for critical infrastructure projects needed to meet future demand.

“Freight rail, through its private capital investments and social benefits, operates at the nexus of private and public purpose. It is this balance that has helped to make the industry an American success story,” said Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “As our economic recovery moves forward, we have to keep focusing on the kind of innovation that freight rail delivers to allow us not only to serve this country’s consumers and businesses, but to lead the way in supporting vital jobs and creating 21st century transportation solutions.”

The report also demonstrates that freight rail expansion can help to reduce pollution and reduce American dependence on foreign oil. While transportation accounts for two-thirds of U.S. oil consumption and nearly one-third of the U.S.’s greenhouse gas emissions, freight rail is an increasingly efficient mode of transporting bulk goods. Efficiency gains have resulted in the industry doubling the number of ton-miles traveled without increasing energy use. And, while freight rail accounts for nearly half of total U.S. freight ton-miles, it contributes just 11 percent of freight-related carbon dioxide pollution.

The freight rail industry’s supply chain also holds the potential to create and sustain quality jobs, while many of these companies are growing and making strides in efficiency. Alstom Transportation, a supplier of the freight rail industry which boasts LEED-approved facilities, has added 100 employees over the last year and plans to add another 100 before the end of 2011.

“The freight rail industry is expanding, and companies like ours that supply that industry, are growing and adding jobs,” said Jim Lindsay, Vice President and Customer Director of Alstom Transportation. “We are committed to supplying this industry in a way that ensures that they remain a creator of quality jobs and an increasingly efficient and green method of transporting goods in America – some of the many benefits that come from continuing to support the country’s urban and interstate movement of passengers by rail.”

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