House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Member Rep. Smucker tours Pennsylvania rail yard.
Lancaster, Pa. — U.S. Representative Lloyd Smucker (R-PA-16) joined officials from Norfolk Southern, Lancaster County and GoRail today for a tour of the railroad’s H. Craig Lewis Yard in Lancaster. The group learned about the local economic impact of the region’s freight rail connections as well as the national impact of private freight rail infrastructure investments.
“Pennsylvania not only enjoys a storied railroad history but, today, we have 59 different freight railroads – more than any other state – including eight here in our district,” said Rep. Smucker. “Then and now, this rail infrastructure fuels economic growth, drawing new businesses and manufacturers to Pennsylvania via seamless connections to markets here and abroad.”
Norfolk Southern’s Lewis Yard underwent an expansion, completed in 2013, as part of the Lancaster Northwest Gateway Project, a $75 million plan to remediate and redevelop approximately 75 acres of urban brownfields to enhance economic development opportunities in the City of Lancaster.
Across the country, freight railroads are investing private dollars into their infrastructure and operations to meet increased demand. This year the Class I operators alone expect to spend $22 billion, or $60 million per day, to build, maintain and enhance the 140,000-mile rail network.
“We’re proud that Rep. Smucker could join us today for a tour of the Lewis Yard and to see the economy in action,” said Rudy Husband, resident vice president of government relations for Norfolk Southern. “Norfolk Southern’s 19,500 route miles reach every major container port in the eastern United States – and we also operate the most extensive intermodal network in the East. This reliable, efficient network is made possible by our ongoing investments, which in turn are predicated on balanced regulatory policies in Washington.”
Following the tour, the group discussed the industry’s legislative priorities, including its opposition to “forced access” and several other new rail regulations under consideration at the U.S. Surface Transportation Board (STB) that could hurt network efficiency and investment. Also critical for Pennsylvania’s many short line railroads, the BRACE (Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy) Act would make the 45G tax credit for short line carriers permanent.
“Railroads have invested more than $630 billion since the Staggers Act released them from overregulation in 1980, leading to a 79 percent decrease in the train accident rate and the doubling of productivity,” said Emily Traiforos, Pennsylvania state director for GoRail. “GoRail’s mission is to highlight the many public benefits of freight rail – more jobs, stronger economies and less congestion among them – as well as advocate for policies that will continue to enable high levels of private rail spending.”
In Pennsylvania, 59 freight railroads maintain 5,165 track miles and employ 7,056.