The transportation sector gained 3,500 jobs in September as the national unemployment remained steady at 5.1 percent, according to statistics released by the Department of Labor on Friday.

The Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) said there were 4,797,800 jobs in transportation in September, compared to 4,794,300 in August. 

 Read more from The Hill.

Read the full September jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics here.

U.S. freight railroads plan to spend an estimated $29 billion on the nation’s rail network, and project to hire about 15,000 people in 2015, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported Feb. 2 in its 2015 Outlook. These high-paying jobs, and record private spending will further strengthen an essential transportation system that is today powering a U.S. economic comeback.

“By providing affordable, efficient and reliable transportation of goods, from lumber to oil to auto parts and grain, freight railroads continue to play a vital role in the positive economic trends rippling through the U.S. economy – including rising gross domestic product, improving employment statistics and plummeting gasoline and heating prices,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. 

The planned $29 billion in projected spending in 2015 – or approximately $79 million a day – brings the freight railroads’ private investments to $575 billion since 1980. The spending has covered upgraded track, new locomotives and freight cars needed to meet growing demand and make a safe network even safer. 

“Unlike most other transportation modes, freight railroads rely on their own funds, not taxpayer dollars, to build and maintain their networks,” Hamberger said. “The result of spending more than half-a-trillion dollars of private funds over the last couple of decades makes this country’s freight rail system the envy of the world.” 

The new rail hires, which an estimated 20 percent will be veterans, join the ranks of those with compensation, including benefits, among the highest of any industry, averaging $109,700 per year.

Sound public policy and today’s balanced economic regulations, Hamberger noted, make it possible to offer high-paying rail jobs and provide the affordable and efficient service American businesses need and expect if they are to compete in a global marketplace. 

“The rail industry’s ability to move more of what our economy needs rests on its ability to earn the capital necessary to continue record private investments, while supporting jobs across the country,” Hamberger said. “With the right federal policies in place, the world’s best rail network is on track to be even better.”

railyard1-150pxThe U.S. Class I workforce continued to grow last month. As of mid-August, the large railroads employed 167,988 people, up 0.5 percent from July’s level and 2.8 percent from August 2013’s mark, according to Surface Transportation Board employment data.

On a month-over-month basis, the maintenance-of-way and structures workforce was relatively flat at 37,329 (down less a tenth of a percent), while the number of professional and administrative staff members declined 0.4 percent to 14,311 and number of transportation (other than train and engine) workers dropped 0.7 percent to 6,697.

Read the complete story at Progressive Railroading.

Total train and engine employment on Class I railroads increased by 7.49 percent in June 2011 versus June 2010, although not all major railroads increased hiring.

T&E headcounts on CSX and Canadian National (U.S. operations) declined in June 2011 versus June 2010, but all other railroads increased their headcounts — primarily through recalls from furlough.

The following table shows the changes in headcount for June 2011 versus June 2010, as reported by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board:

 CLASS I RAILROAD JUNE 2011 JUNE 2010     +/-
BNSF16,41415,032+ 1,382
CSX10,84110,928–      87
CN (U.S.) 2,134 2,325–     191
KCS 1,289 1,196+     93
NS11,78310,610+ 1,173
SOO 1,435 1,423+     12
UP20,21518,127+ 2,088
AMTRAK 3,410 3,348+     62


The number of trailers and containers hauled by major U.S. railroads hit its highest peak for 2011 during the week ending June 11, but the increase in train and engine service workers slowed from previous months.

Major U.S. railroads originated more than 237,000 trailers and containers for the most recent week reported by the Association of American Railroads. That was some 3,000 more than the previous high reached the week of May 28.

The number of train and engine workers on Class I railroads reached 63,078 in May – up 6.6 percent from May 2010, but up only 0.33 percent from April 2011.

Here are the total number of train and engine workers employed by the major U.S. railroads in May, as reported by the U.S. Surface Transportation Board:

Union Pacific 19,828
BNSF 16,053
Norfolk Southern 11,726
CSX 10,719
CN (GTW & IC) 2,074
CP (Soo) 1,412
Kansas City Southern 1,266






Additionally, Amtrak employs 3,433 train and engine workers.

Train and engine workers are the largest category of Class I employees.

Train & Engine 63,078
Maintenance of Way 36,021
Shopcraft 28,963
Professional & Admin. 13,546
Exec. & Officials 9,231
Transp. (non-T&E) 6,678


Train and engine employment on the nation’s major railroads rose again in April and is more than six percent higher than one year ago, reports the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.

The 62,872 train and engine workers employed by Class I railroads in April is still almost 12 percent below the January 2007 level (71,103), and more than seven percent below the January 2008 level (67,908).

The good news is that T&E numbers have been rising steadily over the past year as the economy continues its slow recovery from the depth of serious recession. Since January 2011, T&E employment is up almost three percent on Class I railroads.

Train and engine employment on major U.S. railroads climbed by almost 7.5 percent in March 2011 to 62,627, versus March 2010, according to U.S. Surface Transportation Board data.

The 7.47 percent increase in train and engine employment is more than double the increase in any other craft.

The total Class I workforce totaled almost 156,000 in mid-March, up almost 4.5 percent from March 2010.

The increased headcount reflects the rise in carloadings — especially intermodal (trailer and containers atop flatcars) and an economy climbing out of recession.

Almost 10,000 train and engine workers returned to work on Class I railroads through the first 11 months of 2010, with T&E jobs up almost 10 percent compared with November 2009, says the Surface Transportation Board, which tracks the data.

The STB says 61,819 train & engine workers are now on the job with Class I railroads.

The increase in train and engine workers during 2010 was more than double the increase in other crafts, said the STB.

Train and engine employment continues to climb back toward pre-recession levels, with Class I railroads continuing to call back furloughed train crews.

The Surface Transportation Board posted data for September, showing train and engine employment on Class I railroads grew almost 9 percent in September, versus September 2009; and was almost 2 percent higher than in August 2010.

Train and engine service employment stood at 61,444 in September, while total Class I railroad employment was at 154,094.

WASHINGTON — Any federal funds flowing to freight railroads as part of a stimulus package, or investment tax credit or loans should be accompanied by a requirement that the railroads not use the money for technology that eliminates jobs.

That was the principal message Jan. 28 of the UTU to the House Rail Subcommittee, which sought public comment on the current state and future of the rail industry.

With the Obama administration and Congress committed to putting Americans back to work and keeping them on the job, any actions by railroads to use public dollars for elimination of jobs would be in violation of public policy, said the UTU. 

UTU National Legislative Director James Stem testified that the slumping economy already is responsible for the furlough of some 12 percent of train, engine and yard employees, and more job cuts are expected.

“We hope that the requirements of receiving any federal funds will neither promote nor allow a race to the bottom on wages or elimination of existing jobs,” Stem said. 

He said that “at least one railroad is planning to pay for the implementation of the positive train control (PTC) system required by Congress by attempting to operate their trains with only one employee on the train, and using federal funds to accomplish the goal.”

Public safety is another reason why single crew-member operation of trains with PTC is not feasible, Stem said.

“The responsibilities of the railroad to operate safely over public rail-highway grade crossings, to inspect the moving train at every opportunity, to open public crossings quickly when blocked by a stopped train, and to interact with emergency responders are issues that are not addressed by any PTC system, and such systems were never designed to do so,” he said.

Two crew persons are required to make simple repairs and to interact with local emergency responders following a derailment, a grade-crossing collision, or a trespasser injury or fatality. Over a recent five-year period, said Stem, more than 22,500 grade-crossing accidents, trespasser fatalities and suicides on train tracks occurred in the U.S.

“The use of federal funds to install a PTC system, while attempting to experiment with single person operation, would disregard the safety of other railroad crews, the communities that are served, and the customers’ well being,” Stem said.

“We strongly encourage Congress to clearly specify how any federal funds could be used by railroads, and to prohibit the use of any federal funds — whether tax credits, grants or loans — in a way that would eliminate jobs.”

The UTU also recommended that Congress allow for the issuance of one federal credential for entry into security controlled sites, rather than requiring rail workers to carry multiple identify cards that include their locomotive and/or conductor certification. A single card displaying all credentials would “simplify the process for railroads and their employees,” Stem said, “and use fewer federal resources.”

Additionally, the UTU observed that the National Transportation Safety Board has diluted the functions of its rail division, with the result that fewer investigations are launched into the cause of rail employee fatalities. Stem urged subcommittee members to work with rail labor and the Obama administration to restore NTSB’s focus on rail accident investigation, which is an important step toward improved rail safety.


Click here to read the entire UTU congressional testimony.