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Chamber CEO lobbies Congress on rail capacity

Wilda Parks, President/CEO of the North Clackamas County Chamber of Commerce, joined 30 other individuals from around the country in Washington, D.C. to talk with members of Congress about supporting legislation to increase the nation's freight rail capacity.

The individuals are members of Go21, a national public interest organization advocating increased freight rail hauling capacity because of the public benefits associated with shipping more freight by rail.

'The Chamber has asked Congress to do two things: 1) oppose legislation that would reregulate the railroads and reduce capacity, and 2) sponsor a bill that would help railroads invest in their infrastructure by creating incentives for investments in new track, intermodal yards, locomotives and other projects that increase capacity' Parks said in a written statement.

The Go21 members were in Washington to take part in 'Railroad Day on the Hill,' an annual event in which representatives of the nation's freight railroads and the railway supply industry visit with members of Congress to talk about issues critical to the health of the freight railroad industry.

The key issue addressed by participants this year is expansion of the nation's rail freight capacity. With freight rail demand expected to almost double by 2035, a recent study found that $146 billion should be invested in expanding freight rail capacity in order to handle that increase.

One way to do that would be for Congress to pass the bi-partisan Freight Rail Infrastructure Capacity Expansion Act (S. 1125 and H.R. 2116).

That legislation would provide a 25-percent tax credit for any business investing in new rail track, intermodal facilities, rail yards, locomotives or other rail infrastructure expansion projects. The legislation has been endorsed by a wide range of rail customers including the National Mining Association, the American Association of Port Authorities, the National Retail Federation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

'It's also important that Congress reject attempts to reregulate the railroad industry,' said Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR), one of the sponsors of Railroad Day on the Hill. 'The result of that would be to deprive railroads of the money needed to expand rail capacity to meet the increased demand from all rail shippers.'

In addition to Go21 and the AAR, other sponsors of Railroad Day on the Hill include the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, the Railway Supply Institute, the Railway Tie Association and North Clackamas County Chamber of Commerce.