It is, however, a capital-intensive business. Since the Staggers Act of 1980 deregulated the sector, rail companies have invested about 17 percent of their revenues in their networks. This is about half a trillion dollars of private money over the past three decades. Even the American Society of Civil Engineers, which howls incessantly (and predictably) about the awful state of the nation's infrastructure, shows grudging respect for goods railways in a recent report.
The downturn has actually helped propel capital spending on everything from tracks to IT. Last year $23bn was spent, a record in real terms. The plan has been to modernise the network while business is relatively quiet and money is cheap. Railway firms thereby hope to find themselves in a better position to handle rising traffic in future.
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Keywords: U.S. transportation infrastructure improvements, railroad investment, U.S. railroad freight volume, U.S. railroads modernize, Staggers Act, Logistics Management: Rail & Intermodal, The Economist
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