Washington, D.C. — More than 450 rail advocates — railroaders, suppliers, customers and GoRail coalition members — attended 367 congressional meetings on March 2 for Railroad Day on Capitol Hill 2017. The annual event, led by the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), provides a forum for these advocates to speak directly to their members of Congress about the public benefits of rail, as well as key policy issues.
Infrastructure, a timely topic on the Hill because of President Trump’s desire for a $1 trillion infrastructure program, was a focus of the day. Freight railroads have demonstrated their ongoing commitment to infrastructure by investing more than $630 billion into the nationwide rail network over the last three decades. The message to members of Congress was clear: maintain smart policies that support this level of investment because it is good for our economy and our communities.
One of the primary goals of the day is also to gain co-signers for the Section 45G short line railroad tax credit. Through 45G, short line railroads have spent more than $4 billion of their own capital to drive safety and efficiency improvements for customers, serving much of rural and small town America.
This year, GoRail was proud to host state legislators and local community leaders from California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey and New York. Thank you to Jessica Duboff of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Beth Miller of the California Business Roundtable, Mayor Michael Passero of New London, Conn., Christopher Emmanuel of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Illinois State Representative Marcus Evans, Illinois State Representative Elaine Nekritz, David Holt of Conexus Indiana, Chip Hallock of the Newark Regional Business Partnership in Newark, N.J., Zelko N. Kirincich of the Port of Oswego, N.Y., and Michael Ross of the Franklin County Area Development Corporation in Chambersburg, Pa.
To extend the Railroad Day buzz beyond Capitol Hill, GoRail, along with ASLRRA and the Association of American Railroads (AAR), asked participants and virtual rail supporters to tweet about the issues of the day using #RailDay2017. We also launched a “Thunderclap” to send a singular, resounding message about the benefits of rail. At the end of the day, our rail messages had been viewed by nearly 2.1 million people and 14 different members of Congress joined the social conversation.