Report: ASCE 2021 Report Card: Freight Rail Infrastructure

When it comes to the quality of America’s infrastructure, railroads have moved to the top of the class.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) awarded America’s rail network the highest grade in its most recent Report Card (2021), which is released every four years. Railroads received a B.

The high marks for America’s privately funded freight rail system stand in stark contrast to taxpayer-funded transportation infrastructure. Bridges and roads, for example, continue to age and suffer from overuse. Reflecting their poor condition, ASCE respectively gave these systems grades of C, and D.

By spending billions of dollars to sustain, modernize and grow the freight rail network, U.S. freight railroads are easing the burden on these transportation systems — and the taxpayers who support them. From 1980 to 2020, America’s freight railroads, the vast majority of which are privately owned, spent approximately $760 billion — averaging well over $20 billion a year over the past five years — on capital expenditures and maintenance expenses related to locomotives, freight cars, tracks, bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure and equipment.

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