The U.S. freight rail network moves the raw goods and finished products that fuel the American economy, from the industrial materials that supply our factories to the consumer goods filling shopping carts.
This critical, efficient and cost-effective network is the best in the world thanks to railroads’ billions of dollars in annual investments. The U.S. Department of Transportation expects total freight demand to grow 30% by 2040. This means the improvements made today are even more important for world-class service tomorrow.
- Privately Owned: The vast majority of America’s freight railroads own, build, maintain, operate and pay for their infrastructure with little or no government assistance.
- Capital Intensive: On average, freight railroads spend six times more on capital expenditures as a percentage of revenue than the average U.S. manufacturer.
- Sustained Investment: From 1980 to 2021, America’s freight railroads spent nearly $760 billion — well above $20 billion a year — on capital expenditures and maintenance expenses. These include locomotives, freight cars, tracks, bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure and equipment.Over the last 15 years, freight railroads have invested on average $23.9 billion of their own capital into improving and maintaining their networks each and every year. To put this into perspective, that is $1 billion more than the historic investments Congress has made this year in rail and multi-modal programs in the IIJA and the omnibus combined. These investments are the reason that rail infrastructure today is the highest-rated infrastructure by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
- Self-sufficient: Smart public policy allows railroads to earn the revenue they need to maintain and modernize their nearly 140,000-mile rail network.