WASHINGTON — Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger said the national rail network is critical to meeting the mobility needs of the 21 century.
Speaking before the Midwest High-Speed Rail Summit in Chicago, Hamberger said striking the right balance between passenger and freight rail expansion is key to the success of high-speed rail in America.
“America’s freight railroads support the goal of increased passenger rail investment,” Hamberger said. “It’s good for our economy and the environment when more people and goods move faster by rail.”
He pointed out that the country’s privately owned freight rail network is the literal foundation for high speed rail in America. Railroads account for 43 percent of intercity freight volume — more than any other mode of transportation.
“We are critical stakeholders that need to be engaged from the very beginning of project planning and development. Passenger and freight efforts to grow and expand must complement, not compromise one another,” Hamberger said.
Governors that participated in the summit were Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn, Iowa Governor Chester Culver, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, Missouri Governor Jeremiah Nixon, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle.
Hamberger noted that each high-speed rail project needs to be examined and assessed based on its own merits, taking into account several important factors – including volume of freight traffic, terrain, number of grade crossings, and track configuration. These issues will help determine the feasibility of operating high speed passenger trains on the freight rail network.
In addition, Hamberger emphasized that agreements addressing liability, compensation and increased maintenance need to be approved prior to project planning and development.