Economic Benefits

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Like all the state's feed distributors, Whitman's Feed in North Bennington depends on rail to receive grain.• Shipping by rail instead of truck reduces pollution (on average) by two-thirds, noise by one half, uses only 29% of the fuel and produces only 23% as much greenhouse gasses. These environmental benefits also have an economic impact to Vermont.

• Rail links to important eastern centers will keep Vermont on the map in an era of declining transportation options.

• Rail supports industrial development – and jobs. Some companies won't locate without rail access. For others it provides access to new markets and enables expansion.

• Rail upgrades are a fraction of the cost of highway projects.

• Rail transport lowers prices for commodities in Vermont such as gasoline, salt and feed grain.

According to U.S. Department of Commerce data, every dollar spent on investments in our freight railroads — tracks, equipment, locomotives, bridges — yields $3 in economic output (a 200% rate of return!). In addition, each $1 billion of rail investment creates 20,000 jobs.

In late 2004, the Railroad Association of Vermont commissioned an economic impact study by Northern Economic Consulting, Inc., of Westford (Richard Heaps and Arthur Woolf, principals). The report entitled, The Economic Impact of Vermont Rail Industry on the Vermont Economy, was delivered to the Senate and House Transportation Committees and Agency of Transportation in early March 2005.

173 railroaders in Vermont make our trains go.  Average wages & benefits for railroad employees in Vermont is $84,650.  In Vermont, that's a good job.  Each railroad job supports 4.5 other jobs (based on national averages).  Employees contribute to the community in a variety of ways besides their work and pay above-average taxes to support community services that benefit all.

In addition 750 retired railroaders call Vermont Home. Railroad retirement pays $14 million a year to Vermonters (a sizable economic force). 

Leased rail property earned the state $620,583.51 in FY 2006, provides a critical transportation service without which certain business activities would not take place in Vermont; transports natural resource products and commodities to and from Vermont at lower rates as compared to other modes of transportation allowing many Vermont businesses to remain competitive regionally and nationally; lowers consumer prices in Vermont for in-bound commodities because of lower transport rates; transports petroleum and gas heating products on a just-in-time basis that could not be delivered by highway transport without large, above ground storage facilities state-wide; offers interstate passenger rail access to Amtrak providing an alternate means of transportation for visitors seeking that transportation experience and for those without automobiles thus enhancing the attractiveness of Vermont as a destination choice and potentially increases tourism visits generating additional economic activity; offers intrastate passenger rail excursion and tourist trains for visitors and Vermonters alike; significantly reduces highway infrastructure cost from diversion of heavy truck traffic from state and national highway systems; reduces/avoids the economic cost of a degraded environment as a less polluting and more fuel efficient transportation choice and by reducing highway congestion that mitigates air pollution, noise and negative aesthetic impacts that threaten the rural character of the Vermont landscape and way of life, qualities that make Vermont an attractive and enjoyable place to live, work, visit and start a business.

See also:

Association of American Railroads report on freight rail contributions to the US economy

Report Shows Doweaster Train Generates Billions of Dollars for Maine's Economy