WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Railroad Industry an Economic Indicator

Galesburg, IL – An economic developer says the railroad industry serves as an economic indicator for Galesburg and the surrounding areas.

Dick Johnson is with the Galesburg Regional Economic Development Association. He says the railroad industry is historically the last to see the effects of an economic downturn but the first to see an upswing in the economy.

"This should give us some insight as to one of the largest economic drivers for this area and what their outlook is for recovery from the recession.," Johnson says. "We want to know the outlook."

Johnson says when the economy is booming, 140-to-150 trains go through Galesburg each day. He says recently that number has been down to around 110-to-120 per day. "Apparently that number is about to go back up," says Johnson. "It varies all of the time."

"BNSF has a huge presence in Galesburg," says Johnson. "It's probably our largest single employer."

Johnson says BNSF will host a public forum to discuss economic recovery and when it might occur in Galesburg. "Their second largest hub is in Galesburg," says Johnson. "Trains can come from and be dispatched to any direction from Galesburg."

It begins Tuesday afternoon at 3:00 at the Carl Sandburg College Crist Student Center.