Private investments in freight railroads, which also means increased employment, continues to rise, according to the Association of American Railroads.
The AAR on Wednesday said it projects about $26 billion in spending this year by the nation’s freight railroads to build, maintain and upgrade the rail network.
“This year’s projected record investments continue a decades-long trend of private railroad dollars that sustain America’s freight rail network, so taxpayers don’t have to,” said Edward Hamberger, the association’s president and CEO.
Since 1980, freight railroads have invested about $550 billion of their own money into the rail network, he said. That includes about $115 billion in the past five years.
Virginia-based Norfolk Southern Corp., which has significant operations in the Harrisburg area, including expanding intermodal facilities, is planning to invest $2.2 billion in railroad capital this year.
Last year, Norfolk Southern spent about $2 billion. It has invested that amount or more each year since 2011, according to its financial reports.
Norfolk Southern will spend $550 million on new and rebuilt locomotives, coal cars, intermodal containers and chassis, covered and open coil cars and multilevel automobile racks this year. Investments in facilities and terminals are anticipated to be $210 million and include intermodal terminals and equipment to add capacity to the network.
That includes the Crescent Corridor that runs along Interstate 81.
The railroad giant last year opened an intermodal terminal in Greencastle. It is expanding capacity in Dauphin County at its Rutherford facility. The Rutherford expansion is about $60 million.
The AAR is projecting more than 12,000 new freight rail hires this year, which would be up from a projected 11,000 last year.