Texas' railroads are part of a seamless network that combines roads, rail, ports, and airports all designed to move millions of tons of freight and millions of passengers every year. Infrastructure is a crucial topic amongst policymakers in recent years because of the emphasis placed on economic growth and stressors ranging from natural disasters to COVID-19. 

From 1980 to 2021, America’s freight railroads spent nearly $760 billion — well above $20 billion a year — on capital expenditures and maintenance expenses. These include locomotives, freight cars, tracks, bridges, tunnels and other infrastructure and equipment. Railroads reinvest over 20 percent of their operating revenue back into their infrastructure.

This spending has resulted in dividends for public safety and freight transportation. Since 2000, train accident and hazmat accident rates are down 40 percent and 64 percent, respectively, while the rail employee injury rate in 2020 was an all-time low. Freight railroads account for roughly 40 percent of U.S. long-distance freight volume (measured by ton-miles) — more than any other mode of transportation. This while they account for just 0.5 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and just 1.9 percent of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.

To facilitate Texas' growth, the Texas Railroad Association's member railroads and companies are serious about partnering with TXDOT, stakeholder organizations, and policymakers to build on these statistics and emphasize the intermodal policies and investments needed to position Texas for the demands of the future. 

Support State and Local Matching Funds for Rail Projects

Many infrastructure grants require a local match in order to secure federal or state funds. Securing the funds for these matches has prevented many potential applicants from pursuing potential grants and projects. Supporting funds such as the Rail Relocation Fund and other matching monies in competitive grant applications would expand Texas’ ability to fund major projects.

Promote the Importance of our Multimodal Transportation System

The TxDOT Freight Mobility Plan estimates that freight volumes will nearly double and freight values will increase by 143% by 2050. Furthermore, extreme weather, natural disasters and COVID-19 all underscore the need for multiple modes of transportation, working in concert with robust resiliency, to carry people and freight across the state. The Texas freight rail industry supports any policies and investments that improve the multimodal system and strives to educate the public and policymakers about the importance of such systems.

Pursue Grade Separation Projects that Promote Fluidity and Safety at Rail Crossings

Each railroad crossing is different. Railroads work closely with their operations teams, community leaders, first responders and the public to manage and mitigate grade crossing impacts. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing crossings. Yet, grants and safety monies exist to repair, enhance or fully separate grade crossings. Texas freight railroads stand ready to pursue such projects and grants with communities and stakeholders across the state.

Avoid Controversial Policy Riders and Regulations That Would Inhibit Modal Equity

The Texas Railroad Association urges policymakers to reject controversial policies that would undermine the industry's ability to make the investments in the private networks needed to safely and efficiently meet freight transportation demand. Proposals that should be rejected include permitting longer or heavier commercial trucks, unnecessary crew size mandates, and other arbitrary operational requirements that add complexity to the rail system.