The nation's major freight railroads are projected to invest a record $13 billion in capital expenditures in 2012 to expand, upgrade, and enhance the nation's freight rail network, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced.
The freight railroads also expect to hire more than 15,000 employees this year, replacing retiring workers and adding new positions nationwide.
"Unlike trucks, barges or airlines, America's freight railroads operate on infrastructure they own, build and maintain themselves so taxpayers don't have to. And this year they are investing at a record rate to meet the demands of the recovering economy," said Edward R. Hamberger, AAR President and CEO. "These investments help businesses get their goods to market more efficiently and affordably, so they too can innovate, invest and hire. That's how freight rail spurs the American economy and supports jobs all across the country."
With hundreds of infrastructure projects underway nationwide, privately owned freight rail networks are maintained through continued investments that have reached record levels in the past three years. These investments include expenditures such as intermodal terminals that facilitate truck to train freight transport; new track, bridges and tunnels; modernized safety equipment; new locomotives and rail cars, and other components that ensure the U.S. freight rail network remains the best in the world.
In recent years, railroads have been spending roughly 17 percent of their annual revenue on capital expenditures, compared with the average U.S. manufacturer that spends roughly 3 percent of revenue on capital expenditures.
"As the demand to move more freight by rail increases and a significant percentage of the rail workforce hits retirement age, freight railroads are continuing to add and fill jobs nationwide," said Hamberger. "These jobs are well paying, highly skilled careers that cannot be offshored."
Rail employee compensation averages roughly $100,000 per year, with jobs ranging from engineers and dispatchers, to law enforcement, to information technology and industrial development. Freight railroads have roughly 175,000 employees nationwide, many of whom are veterans and reservists. In fact, one in five of recent new railroad hires are veterans.
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