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Industry blankets DC for Railroad Day 2012

BNSF Railroad hired 608 new employees in Illinois last year, despite the tough economy. Adams County, IL has the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the state due in part to rail served industries. Prince AgriProducts invested $18 million and added 50 new jobs in Quincy, IL because it could ship product via the Burlington Junction Railroad.

These are just a few of the Illinois-specific examples of the impact that the freight rail industry has on Illinois’ economy. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce joined GoRail and the AAR in Washington, DC last week to share these stories with Illinois Members of Congress. The Capitol Hill visits were part of the freight industry’s annual Railroad Day in Washington, DC when Class 1 and Shortline Railroad employees join with shippers, manufacturers and economic developers to visit every single member of the US House and Senate.

While the Illinois Chamber focused on sharing job stories, two important federal legislative initiatives were also discussed with legislators. Illinois Congressmen were urged to co-sponsor legislation that would reinstate the Section 45G Shortline Railroad Tax Credit. This credit helps Shortline Railroads that operate on razor thin margins make the kinds of capital investments that create jobs at rail served manufacturing and agricultural plants. Every IL House member is a cosponsor except for Congressman Quigley (IL05) and Congressman Dold (IL10). The industry also educated legislators about the important balance of proper regulation of the freight rail industry. Some in congress are hoping to “re-regulate” the railroads but likely do not remember how over-regulation nearly decimated freight rail in our country years ago. We were happy to learn today that these legislative initiatives were not allowed into a larger transportation package that is working its way through the Senate this week.

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