Tallahassee, FL — Rail officials and advocates gathered at the Capitol in Tallahassee today to discuss Florida’s freight railroads and their role in moving the state and local economies. Freight rail companies have collectively invested $25 billion annually over the last five years into the 140,000-mile nationwide rail network, fueling steady efficiency and safety gains.
Florida’s 14 freight railroads, including Jacksonville-based CSX, move millions of tons of freight each year, connecting Florida ports, businesses and customers with domestic and international markets. CSX alone serves 12 ports in Florida. Rail connections like these supported over $130 million in new or expanded rail-served facilities on CSX or its connecting regional and short lines in 2015, per the most recent data available.
Railroads’ private investments not only bolster efficiency across the network, they also enhance safety and promote the development and use of innovative new technologies. Ultrasound track technology, big data and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are just a few of the innovations railroads deploy every day to make a safe network even safer.
Freight rail is also a key piece of Florida’s booming intermodal freight industry. Jacksonville, for example, was recently named one of the top cities in the U.S. for intermodal access – this distinction supported by Jaxport’s new CSX-served intermodal container facility.
“At the core of Florida’s intermodal infrastructure is freight rail, which is also the nation’s only privately funded transportation mode,” said Christy Sammon, Florida State Director for GoRail. “While many of our highways, waterways, runways and other publicly funded infrastructure have been starved for cash, freight railroads doubled down in recent years with record investments in track, equipment and technology to hold up their end of the intermodal bargain.”
Florida’s 14 freight railroads operate over 2,818 miles of track and employ 4,981 in the Sunshine State. Intermodal shipments and nonmetallic minerals comprise the majority of freight rail shipments both beginning and ending in Florida.