Rail Freight Transportation Today
Today's freight railroads are considered faster, safer, and more efficient than ever. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) points out that the railroads together provide a cost effective system that ties local businesses together into one national economy - from farmers and manufactures, to e-commerce companies that need fast delivery. Over the past decades the railroad industry has continued to invest in new tracks, modern locomotives, freight cars and new communication systems to make the rail system "cleaner, greener and safer."
According to the AAR, a total of 562 common carrier freight railroads were operating in the United States at the end of 2005. These railroads employed approximately 187,000 workers, with an average wage of $66,975 and total compensation of nearly $91,000.
Major Freight Railroad Companies:
Today railroad companies are classified by the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission on the basis of gross revenue. The largest are considered Class I Railroads. The Class I railroads account for 68 percent of the mileage operated and 93 percent of freight revenue. The Class 1 railroads primarily provide long-haul, high-density intercity transportation. This list includes:
The AAR also includes 30 regional railroads, which are linehaul railroads with at least 350 route miles and/or revenue over $40 million; 320 local linehaul carriers which operate less than 350 route miles and earn less than $40 million; and 203 switching and terminal carriers that primarily provide switching and terminal services.
Other Major North American Railroads include:
Type of Freight Carried by Class 1 Railroads for 2003 and 2005:
* Miscellaneous mixed shipments (STCC 46) is mostly intermodal traffic. Some intermodal traffic is also includedin commodity-specific categories. STCC 46 accounts for about two thirds of intermodal tonnage. Source: Association of Americal Railroads.
Class I Railroad Traffic:
Source: Association of Americal Railroads.
Photo courtesy BNSF, text by Richard Boehle, freight and traffic information courtesy Association of American Railroads.