Freight Rail’s Private Investments

Freight Rail’s Private Investments: Billions of Dollars Annually

The U.S. freight rail network moves the raw goods and finished products that fuel the American economy, from the electricity powering businesses to the consumer goods filling shopping carts.

This critical, efficient and cost-effective network is the best in the world thanks to railroads’ billions of dollars in annual investments. The U.S. Department of Transportation expects total freight demand to grow 41% from 2015 to 2040, which means the improvements made today are even more important for world-class service, tomorrow.

Quick Facts

  • Privately Owned: The vast majority of America’s freight railroads own, build, maintain, operate and pay for their infrastructure with little or no government assistance.
  • Capital Intensive: Railroads spend more than 40 cents out of every revenue dollar on the rail network, six times more than the average U.S. manufacturer.
  • Record Investments: Railroads have spent more than $660 billion since 1980.
  • Policy-Enabled: Smart public policy gives railroads  the opportunity to make enough money to maintain and modernize the 140,000-mile rail network.
  • Growing the Economy: The net economic effect of freight rail’s investments is profound; every $1 railroads spend generates $10 in other spending in the economy. In 2014 alone, U.S. freight railroads helped spur nearly $274 billion in economic activity and supported nearly 1.5 million jobs across the country. Railroads also generated almost $33 billion in total federal, state and local tax revenues, which helped build schools, pave roads and pay for teachers, police and firefighters, as well as created almost $89 billion in total wages.
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