American’s freight railroads announced this week that they plan to spend $29 billion to build, maintain, and upgrade the nation’s rail network. They will also hire 15,000 people for jobs all across the country in 2015.
This investment would represent another record for the railroads, but should come as no surprise. Since 1980, U.S. freight railroads have invested $575 billion in maintaining and upgrading their network.
This spending – which would amount to roughly $3 million each hour in 2015 – includes things like purchasing new equipment and locomotives, installing new track and bridges, raising tunnel clearances, and implementing new technology to keep America’s freight railroads the best in the world.
The announcement is especially exciting for Illinois corn farmers, who use the rail and river transportation systems to send more than half of their harvest to other states and other countries every year. More than 50 percent of the grain going to Texas and around 25% of the grain going to Mexico is from Illinois.
An investment of this magnitude in rail infrastructure will yield lower rail rates and more reliable service for farmers, which is always a benefit.
We continue to wait for our government to prioritize river transportation infrastructure in a similar manner, which will allow Illinois farmers to truly compete in a global marketplace.