The SIGNAL News – May 2021

Subject: Railroads Keep Moving Forward – The Signal – 7/27

New Report Shows Freight Rail Remained Reliable During COVID-19

Researchers from Northwestern University Transportation Center (NUTC) find that despite the challenges and rapid changes that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the rail industry, freight railroads were resilient and swiftly adapted to keep critical goods moving.

“Throughout 2020, rail’s advantage was rooted in the capacity and cost efficiency that it brings to e-commerce,” NUTC researchers note. “Data show that freight railroads responded well to rapid demand shifts, particularly in intermodal traffic. The sharp intermodal increase was driven in part by the rise of e-commerce, a tight trucking market, and shifts in consumer spending.”

Secretary Buttigieg Visits Chicago Rail Yards

Recently, USDOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and other state, federal and local officials met with CSX and AAR to learn how the Chicago Region Environmental and Transportation Efficiency (CREATE) Program is improving railroad operations around Chicago. As part of the trip, they toured CSX’s Bedford Park Intermodal Facility where they could see first-hand the complexity — and importance — of rail operations in Chicago.

“As former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Secretary Buttigieg knows firsthand how vital keeping trains moving through Chicago is to communities and local economies across the Midwest and beyond,” said AAR CEO Ian Jefferies. “Public and private partners are at the table with skin in the game to advance the infrastructure solutions necessary to help railroads deliver and communities thrive long into the future.”

Expert Input: POTUS’ EO Could Derail the World’s Most Efficient Freight Rail System

In the video above, Forbes Editor-in-Chief Steve Forbes breaks down why the White House’s focus on freight railroad competition could negatively affect the industry and our national economy. “The White House’s focus here woefully is misdirected. It could derail one of the country’s great success stories of the last 40 years. The U.S. today has the best run most efficient freight railroading system in the world, better than Europe’s, way better than China’s,” Forbes said. “What counts is this: freight prices are down 44% since 1981.”

Freight Railroads Help Fight Wildfires

As part of their year-round preparedness and response planning, freight railroads plan for natural disasters and extreme weather events. For example, with the Dixie Fire still raging north of Sacramento, Union Pacific is lending 6 water tank cars to help fight the blaze. The water tanks can hold up to 23,000 gallons of water and spray up to 75 feet in the air.