North America’s only full service railroad collects land rent

It’s not just in Japan (and Vancouver, sort of) that land rent is used to fund railroads.

Photo Credit: Gator Chris via Flickr (cc)

Originally built by the Federal government and now owned by the State, the Alaska Railroad is “North America’s last full service railroad” because it operates, on its own tracks, with its own rolling stock, freight and passenger service. Revenue is just a bit more than enough to cover operating costs, but how to pay for the capital expenditures– equipment, track, facilities– which must be constantly renewed and improved to run the railroad smoothly? Part of the answer is collecting the land rent. The Railroad owns some 18,000 acres of real estate (see source below), for which it last year received just under $13 million in land rent (see page 34 of this pdf).   This compares to total capital expenditures last year of $73.1 million, with the balance covered from various kinds of grants, as well as operating profit.

ARR provides more information about their leased and leasable land here.

Of course, this is collecting only a tiny part of the economic rent the railroad generates, but at least it’s a source that will grow as the railroad improves.

Thanks to Trains magazine for the original tip.