Thursday, March 14, 2013

Industry marks Railroad Day on Capitol Hill

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Rail industry representatives spanning freight and passenger railroads, along with industry suppliers, labor groups, supportive state and local political officials, and rail activists were out in force on and around Capitol Hill Thursday.

Though specific interests were varied, those participating were urging congressional representatives to keep their commitment to the most efficient land mode.

The Association of American Railroads noted discussions were aimed to identify "the need to preserve the current regulatory framework that has allowed the industry to invest billions of dollars into the nation's rail infrastructure, making the U.S. rail system the best in the world."

"Americans whose livelihoods depend on a healthy rail industry want Congress to know that freight rail is working for our country, and carrying the investment load so taxpayers don't have to," said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. "Freight rail is the backbone of our nation's economy, and we need to maintain policies that keep that possible."

Advocates for freight rail will talk to legislators about how rail differs from other modes of surface transportation, most notably that freight rail invests private capital—more than $24 billion this year alone—in its own infrastructure, while other modes of transportation heavily rely on subsidies by taxpayers.

Railroad Day participants also aimed to voice the need to oppose proposals to increase the truck size and weight allowances.

GE Transportation President and CEO Lorenzo Simonelli, in a statement Thursday, said, "Railroads are the backbone of the economy, and GE Transportation is proud to support the U.S. freight rail industry."

Simonelli added, "Freight rail is the most efficient, cleanest, and safest way to haul goods and commodities to communities across the nation. It is critical that the U.S. freight rail system stays economically vital so that small and large freight railroads alike can continue to invest their own capital in these essential transportation networks. We're proud to supply the advanced locomotives, service support, and the signaling and intelligent control technology that fuels the nation's freight railroads."

Among many other interests, Railway Age magazine also was present in Washington to participate in the rail effort.