OneRail Coalition Commends ASCE Report Card for Highlighting Nation’s Infrastructure Investment Needs While Noting Rail Industry’s Recent Successes

Release Date: 
Mar 21 2013

Washington, DC - March 21, 2013 - The OneRail coalition commends the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) for drawing attention to the nation's infrastructure needs in its "2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure", which evaluates 16 of the nation's major infrastructure categories based on capacity, condition, funding, future needs, operations and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation.  Overall, the grade for America's infrastructure, including transportation, water, environment, public facilities, and energy, was a disappointing D+, up only slightly from a D in 2009.

However, the ASCE report points out that the single most improved category was Rail, which went from a C- in 2009 to a C+ in 2013.  This improvement is the result of aggressive investment by the rail industry to improve existing infrastructure and add new capacity, resulting in greater efficiency, safety, connectivity, and an increase in demand.

The report (http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/a/#p/rail/overview) notes that, "Railroads are experiencing a competitive resurgence as both an energy-efficient freight transportation option and a viable city-to-city passenger service. In 2012, Amtrak recorded its highest year of ridership with 31.2 million passengers, almost doubling ridership since 2000, with growth anticipated to continue. Both freight and passenger rail have been investing heavily in their tracks, bridges, and tunnels as well as adding new capacity for freight and passengers."

Freight railroads transport 43% of the nation's intercity freight and about one-third of U.S. exports. To handle this load and continually improve their networks, freight railroads are investing over $24.5 billion of private funds into their network in 2013. To enable freight railroads to continue this robust level of investment, the OneRail Coalition endorses ASCE's policy recommendation to, "Support a regulatory and financial environment that encourages continued private investment in the nation's freight railroad system." Please also see www.aar.org/newsandevents/Press-Releases/Pages/Freight-Railroads-Praise-American-Society-Civil-Engineers-Report-Citing-Private-Investments-as-Key-to-Boosting-Rail-Sectors.aspx for the Association of American Railroads (AAR) response to the report.

Intercity passenger rail and commuter rail are experiencing a renaissance in America and moving record numbers of passengers as a new generation seeks transportation alternatives to driving and flying. Amtrak had its highest recorded ridership ever in 2012, having almost doubled since 2000. Commuter rail ridership has grown more than 28% over the last decade and now exceeds 468 million passengers per year. However, as public services, passenger rail and commuter rail are dependent on increased public investment to be able to continue to grow and meet America's needs going forward. The OneRail Coalition endorses ASCE's policy recommendations to, "Improve passenger rail in dense urban corridor markets and as an alternative to air and automobile travel for intercity markets; Increase and expand commuter rail services in urban areas and intercity passenger services linking major cities in the nation's mega-regions; and Continue federal investment in transit through a robust surface transportation program." Please also see http://www.apta.com/mediacenter/pressreleases/2013/Pages/130319_Infrastructure.aspx for the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) response to the report.

The OneRail Coalition endorses ASCE's conclusion that, "Infrastructure is the foundation that connects the nation's businesses, communities, and people, driving our economy and improving our quality of life. For the U.S. economy to be the most competitive in the world, we need a first class infrastructure system." ASCE states that, "We must commit today to make our vision of the future a reality - an American infrastructure system that is the source of our prosperity."  For both the privately owned and operated freight rail industry and the publicly supported passenger rail and commuter rail operations, the commitment to make America's infrastructure system the source of our prosperity and to contribute to a healthy, growing economy has never been stronger.