- The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates current necessary rail investments amount to $154.1 billion dollars, in addition to the $124.7 billion that is already provided by the privately owned rail network, the Society's Rail Report states in its 2017 Infrastructure report card.
- With intermodal transport needs growing, government forecasts predict a 40% increase in freight shipment need by 2040. Currently, approximately 1/3 of U.S. exports are handled by rail. Daily, five million tons of freight and approximately 85,000 passengers depend on rail transport.
- In 2015, private investment in Class I rail infrastructure equaled $27.1 billion dollars.
With infrastructure investment focus appearing ambiguous as a priority for the new administration, growing concern exists within the rail industry, which suggests the following methods as a means of regeneration. And with an overall infrastructure grade of a D+, the U.S. has much work to be done.
According to the ASCE, rail should be a part of multimodal strategic plans and capital investment programs that support a role for both freight and passenger rail at state and local levels. There should also exist a regulatory and financial environment that encourages continued private investment in the nation’s freight railroad system.
The ASCE further suggests the creation of innovative financing methods, including revenue bonds and tax exempt financing, at state and regional levels, plus public-private partnerships, and the founding of state infrastructure banks to increase funding for freight and passenger rail.
Additionally, the development of state-level short line assistance programs with low-interest loans and grants to modernize rail lines to the degree that 286,000 pound loads can be carried, with resulting increased allowable speeds. Also continue the federal Railroad Track Maintenance Tax Credit.
Finally, the establishment of a federal rail trust fund to support rail improvements should commence, which includes matching provisions to encourage participation by states as well as private companies. And, passenger rail improvements in dense eastern corridors should co-exist with air, bus, and automobile travel.