Congressman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) toured the WATCO Companies extensive freight rail operations at Greens Point in Houston this week and heard how the Short Line Tax Credit is important to smaller railroads that serve business and industry.
Brady, who Chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, heard how Short Line Railroads have used a 25% tax credit to support industries throughout the U.S. and have created jobs through the investments the railroads have made in infrastructure improvements. The short line tax credit (Section 45G of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986) is at the center of short line advocacy agendas.
The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association, on their website, indicates that the tax credit helps over 550 short line railroads preserve nearly 50,000 miles of track that otherwise would have been abandoned. This is track that received little investment by its previous owners and must be upgraded and maintained if over 10,000 rail customers are to stay connected to the national main line rail network. These freight rail connections are critical to preserving the first and last mile of connectivity to factories, grain elevators, power plants, refineries, mines, and facilities that employ over 1 million Americans.
Section 45G connects thousands of rail customers and communities to the national freight network. While highway infrastructure is maintained by federal and state governments, freight rail infrastructure is maintained by private sector investments. Short lines use approximately 184 million gallons of fuel to move 10 million carloads of freight annually. Trucks would require 540 million gallons to move the same freight. Short lines save shippers 20% to 50% over comparable truck transportation. Short lines keep 30 million truckloads per year off the highway, saving billions per year in highway damage costs. To ensure that short lines can to deliver these benefits, and make crucial infrastructure investments in a stable financial planning environment, ASLRRA is working with Congress to make Section 45G permanent.