Railroads to spend $29B on network, hire 15,000

February 2, 2015

U.S. freight railroads plan to spend an estimated $29 billion on the nation’s rail network, and project to hire about 15,000 people in 2015, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported Feb. 2 in its 2015 Outlook. These high-paying jobs, and record private spending will further strengthen an essential transportation system that is today powering a U.S. economic comeback.

“By providing affordable, efficient and reliable transportation of goods, from lumber to oil to auto parts and grain, freight railroads continue to play a vital role in the positive economic trends rippling through the U.S. economy – including rising gross domestic product, improving employment statistics and plummeting gasoline and heating prices,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. 

The planned $29 billion in projected spending in 2015 – or approximately $79 million a day – brings the freight railroads’ private investments to $575 billion since 1980. The spending has covered upgraded track, new locomotives and freight cars needed to meet growing demand and make a safe network even safer. 

“Unlike most other transportation modes, freight railroads rely on their own funds, not taxpayer dollars, to build and maintain their networks,” Hamberger said. “The result of spending more than half-a-trillion dollars of private funds over the last couple of decades makes this country’s freight rail system the envy of the world.” 

The new rail hires, which an estimated 20 percent will be veterans, join the ranks of those with compensation, including benefits, among the highest of any industry, averaging $109,700 per year.

Sound public policy and today’s balanced economic regulations, Hamberger noted, make it possible to offer high-paying rail jobs and provide the affordable and efficient service American businesses need and expect if they are to compete in a global marketplace. 

“The rail industry’s ability to move more of what our economy needs rests on its ability to earn the capital necessary to continue record private investments, while supporting jobs across the country,” Hamberger said. “With the right federal policies in place, the world’s best rail network is on track to be even better.”