The freight railroads also expect to hire more than 15,000 employees this year, replacing retiring workers and adding new positions nationwide.
AAR says railroads have been spending roughly 17% of their annual revenue on capital expenditures, compared with the average U.S. manufacturer that spends roughly 3% of revenue on capital expenditures.
"America’s freight railroads operate on infrastructure they own, build, and maintain themselves so taxpayers don’t have to. And this year they are investing at a record rate to meet the demands of the recovering economy,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “These investments help businesses get their goods to market more efficiently and affordably, so they too can innovate, invest and hire. That’s how freight rail spurs the American economy and supports jobs all across the country.”
"As the demand to move more freight by rail increases and a significant percentage of the rail workforce hits retirement age, freight railroads are continuing to add and fill jobs nationwide," said Hamberger. "These jobs are well paying, highly skilled careers that cannot be offshored."
AAR also noted rail employee compensation averages roughly $100,000 per year, with jobs ranging from engineers and dispatchers, to law enforcement, to information technology and industrial development. Freight railroads have roughly 175,000 employees nationwide, many of whom are veterans and reservists.