Matzie: Freight rail is the economic engine that keeps the country moving

HARRISBURG, April 20 – The Pennsylvania House of Representatives today unanimously adopted a resolution authored by state Rep. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, that honors the freight rail industry.

House Resolution 252 credits the U.S. freight rail industry with being the most efficient and productive system of its kind in the world. Additionally, the resolution honors the Philadelphia and Columbia Railroad, which was completed by the state in 1834 as part of the Main Line of Public Works system; and the Allegheny Portage Railroad, which was also completed by the state in 1834 and was the first railroad to travel through the Allegheny Mountains.    

"The freight rail industry is the backbone of America's economic vitality and growth, and it plays an instrumental role in bringing American goods to market both nationally and internationally," Matzie said. "The food we eat, the cars we drive, the raw material we use to build our homes and operate our businesses undoubtedly have all been moved across the country on freight rails."

Matzie said that freight rail, which has been serving the United States since 1830, has never been as important as it is today due to the industry's continued efforts in making it one of the most fuel-efficient means of transporting goods. Due to those efforts and advancements in technology, freight rail has consumed 69.8 billion fewer gallons of fuel and emitted 781 fewer tons of carbon dioxide since 1980. One gallon of diesel fuel is estimated to now be able to transport one ton of freight close to 500 miles. 

"In addition to its environmental benefits, the freight rail industry also keeps our citizens working by employing almost 200,000 people nationwide, with 13,000 of those good-paying jobs located in the commonwealth," Matzie said. "Pennsylvania has the distinction of having more operating railroads than any other state, so I believe this resolution honoring the industry's achievements and future is appropriate."  

The U.S. freight rail network has over 570 railroad companies, including 140,000 miles of track, which carries about 40 tons of freight for each person in the country each year.