Railroads have been a vital partner in U.S. military operations for more than 200 years, from transporting troops and supplies to hauling the raw materials needed for weapons and planes, to hiring thousands of veterans each year.
Moving Military Operations Forward
During the Civil War (1861-1865) — often called the ‘first railroad war’ — railroads became the vital new technology for both Union and Confederate forces. They moved unprecedented numbers of troops and supplies while introducing ironclad railcars — capable of carrying big guns and artillery — that later evolved into modern armored combat vehicles.
As World War II unfolded, railroads moved approximately two million troops a month for deployment following the attack on Pearl Harbor and were instrumental in hauling the coal, iron ore and steel needed to produce military supplies, as well as the finished products themselves.
Today, railroads continue to support U.S. combat efforts with innovative technologies that strengthen military operations and help America’s brave achieve victory.
Transforming Veterans to Railroaders
From early West Point grads that helped lead the U.S. rail industry’s formation, to civil war veterans that worked on the nation’s transcontinental railroad, the success of America’s freight railroads is deeply rooted in a tradition of hiring veterans.
The skills developed and valued in the military — a sense of dedication, discipline, teamwork and adherence to safety — are the same skills that keep the backbone of the nation’s economy running efficiently. Veterans are particularly well-suited for railroad careers because of their experience working with machinery, focus on operational safety, adaptability to changing conditions and their other abundant, diverse skills.
Railroads, unlike many other private industries, understand the technical aspects and demands of an armed forces job. That is why they work directly with the military to help talented service men and women transition from military service to private sector railroad employment. Today, approximately 20-25% of rail employees have a military background. In fact:
- Railroads focus heavily on on-the-job training and do not require a college degree for a lifelong, skilled career.
- The average U.S. rail employee earns 60% more than the average U.S. employee, with compensation (including benefits) averaging nearly $121,000 a year.
- Rail jobs range from engineering and dispatching to law enforcement, information technology, industrial development and more.
- The freight rail industry is honored to support the dedicated men and women that have served our country and look forward to the years of partnership to come.