Hey, Tree Huggers, Where Are Those Odes to Our Roads of Rail?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I’ve been working for the railroad.  And not just to pass the time away. 

No, I’ve been lobbying, which is undoubtedly easier than working on the railroad, involving as it does heavy, outdoor work in all kinds of weather.

I am a registered lobbyist for the Massachusetts Railroad Association, the trade group for the state’s freight-hauling railroads. My colleagues at Preti Strategies and I have had this account for almost 10 years.

It’s good work, advocating for things such as state funding for industrial rail access projects, which create jobs and stimulate the economy.

And it’s good to work with the people who run the freight railroads.  They know their stuff, they tell you the truth, and they have the right touch in meetings with legislators.  They never break the furniture, if you know what I mean.

I feel good about our freight railroads. And not just because they send us a check every month. 

I feel good about the goods they keep flowing to Massachusetts and the trucks they keep off our roads. 

It would take about 300 trucks to haul what the typical freight train does.  Our highways would be much more congested than they already are – hard as they may be to imagine -- if we didn’t have the 11 freight railroads we have operating in the Commonwealth.

I feel good about the energy freight railroads conserve and the greenhouse gases they keep out of our already overheated atmosphere. 

Railroads can move one ton of cargo 476 miles on one gallon of diesel fuel.  For every ton of cargo moved on rail and not on truck, there’s a 75% reduction in greenhouse gases.

I feel good that railroads have continually invested a lot of their own money in maintaining and improving the critically-important-but-never-noticed rail infrastructure of Massachusetts – tracks and bridges, ties and roadbeds, switches and sidings, etc.

Result: Said infrastructure is now, generally, in far better shape than our highways and bridges for motor vehicles.

In a March 22nd op-ed piece in The Republican/MassLive (Springfield, MA), Ian Jefferies of the Association of American Railroads, noted that America’s freight railroads have collectively spent some $26 billion on upkeep and improvements in recent years. 

CSX, for example, spent close to $8 million in Massachusetts in 2015 alone. 

“Freight rail makes the tall task of fixing America’s infrastructure a little less steep,” Jefferies correctly observed.

Here’s just a partial list of items shipped regularly into Massachusetts by our freight railroads: automobiles, lumber and other building materials, propane, plastics and resins (vital to the medical instruments and high-tech industries), food (mostly canned goods and bulk products, such as flour and edible oils), fertilizer, petroleum products (lube oils and waxes), and animal feeds (agriculture and horse breeding remain important to our economy).

So here’s to you, Bay Colony and CSX, and here’s to you, East Brookfield & Spencer, and Fore River!   

Here’s to you, oh Housatonic, and to all the rest – the Massachusetts Central, Massachusetts Coastal, New England Central, Pan Am, Pioneer Valley and Providence and Worcester railroads!

Without you, our economy would rot from the inside, our highways would go into constant gridlock, and our climate would change for the worse even sooner.







No comments:

Post a Comment