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Report: "High-speed rail modernization is good for manufacturing jobs, good for economic growth and good for the environment"

2 min. read

Looking for yet another example of how moving towards a cleaner, advanced technology economy is a winner economically for the United States? Here it is, this time in the transportation sector.

Hundreds of Midwest manufacturers stand to benefit from a web of high-speed passenger rail routes emerging from Chicago’s rail hub, according to a report released by an environmental policy group that has fought to defend the use of billions in taxpayer money on such projects.

The report released Friday by the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center found that 460 manufacturers in seven Midwest states are poised to reap new business, along with a dozen more highly visible companies that make rail cars and locomotives. Those additional supply-chain manufacturers make everything from seats, couplers and bolts to ceiling panels, interior lighting and air horns. They also cut sheet metal, provide electronics and communications equipment, and supply track maintenance machinery.

“What we’re seeing is that old-line Rust Belt manufacturers are making the equipment for modern new rail cars,” the group’s director, Howard Learner, told The Associated Press. He said the “extraordinary” number of companies they found in the supply chain was nearly double what he expected.

“It shows that the federal investment in high-speed rail modernization is good for manufacturing jobs, good for economic growth and good for the environment,” Learner said.

The entire report is available here, and it's well worth a read. The bottom line is that "rail investments mean job creation and economic growth and expansion." To be more specific, the expansion of "next generation passenger rail...means business opportunities for both the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) that make the trains and the many "supply chain" companies that create the components and materials needed by the OEMs." This provides "old-line 'Rust Belt' manufacturing businesses" with opportunities to "[re-tool] to seize opportunities from rail growth," and to create jobs with "better wages and benefits" in both the short- and long-term.  Given all those benefits, it's about time our country seized this opportunity, instead of watching as other countries race ahead of us down the high-speed tracks.