U.S. Senator Charles Schumer joined Saratoga County officials today to launch his push for a bill to extend a tax credit he considers vital to railroads in New York.
On January 1st, a tax credit for short-line railroads is set to expire. At the Saratoga Springs Train Station, Sen. Schumer announced his push for the Short Line Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act of 2013. The Democrat mentioned the importance of the Saratoga and North Creek Railway, and other short-line rail lines that connect interstate rail to small communities.
“These are the unheralded links that bring raw materials to our businesses, connect them with other cities in the supply chain, and as is true here in Saratoga County, are important to tourism as well.”
Schumer said his bill would aid efforts to increase ridership on the Saratoga and North Creek railway by funding crucial maintenance, and to begin freight service to the Adirondacks.
“This freight rail portion could create new jobs in our state as well,” said Schumer. “Because they bring titanium tailings from the Adirondacks left over from the mining during World War II, down the line toward businesses in the capital region, creating jobs at both ends, and to other freight lines.”
Schumer mentioned the potential transport of materials that can be processed into rare earth materials, due to their importance in the manufacturing of high-tech devices. Schumer has been advocating for business between Apple and the Malta-based semiconductor manufacturing facility GlobalFoundries.
The line would also service the Barton garnet mine in North River.
The tax credit is valued at 50 percent of the cost of track maintenance and upgrades, up to to $3,500 per mile. Schumer’s bill would extend the tax credit through 2016.
David Simpson, of Iowa Pacific, the company that owns the 30-mile Saratoga and North Creek Railway, said tax credit helps Iowa Pacific invest in all of its short-line rail.
“Looking at all of capital expenditures, this tax credit provision enables us to spend about two million dollars more per year across all of our properties than we would otherwise be able to do.”
Outgoing Saratoga Springs Mayor Scott Johnson, a three-term Republican, thanked Sen. Schumer for his support for mass transit over the years. Johnson said the Saratoga and North Creek Railway is essential for maintaining a high quality of life in the small but growing city.
“Anything that actually results in the creation of jobs or preservation is of course pivotal for our region. As, Saratoga Springs, we’re positioned on the main rail lines, but these short rails are really great connectors to many things make our county and our region a great place to live and visit.”
The annual short-line rail tax credit equates to about $300,000 a year for the line that spans Saratoga and Warren counties.
In recent weeks, Senator Schumer has been pushing for increased oversight on rail transportation following the fatal Bronx derailment of an MTA commuter train on December 1st.