A nonprofit-research group says more government action is needed to prevent future gridlock on U.S. railways, as freight volumes are expected...

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A nonprofit-research group says more government action is needed to prevent future gridlock on U.S. railways, as freight volumes are expected to double in the next 30 years.

Rand suggests a solution to this “crisis,” resulting from factors such as soaring U.S. exports, should balance the private interests of shippers and railroads with the cost to the public.

The total costs are expected to be massive — at least $148 billion over the next three decades — to expand rail lines.

According to the Association of American Railroads, the seven major U.S. railroad companies say they could fund about two-thirds of the cost, leaving the rest for tax incentives, public-private partnerships or other sources.

Rand says more needs to be known about how the public and private sector negotiate to expand capacity.

Some 30 communities in Illinois are fighting the acquisition of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway by Canadian National Railway (CNI) because of the increased traffic they expect in their backyards.

Canadian National contends it will allow trains to move more freely and avoid the clogged tracks of Chicago.

As more shipments shift from truck to rail because of high fuel prices and road congestion, analysts say solutions are becoming more critical.