Research

Transportation/Railroads and Equipment Suppliers

Railroads are an important part of the U.S. economy. Since 1980, railroads have captured an increasing share of U.S. freight shipments. Railroads accounted for approximately 27% of the ton-miles of U.S. freight moved in 1980, and 38% by 2005. Rail growth has average 2.5%/year vs. total freight growth of 1.2%/year. In terms of tons, coal represents the largest proportion of railroad shipments. In 2007, coal represented approximately 44% of total tons. Other large commodity groups include chemicals, farm products, non-metallic minerals and miscellaneous mixed shipments. In terms of revenue, coal is still the largest, but the miscellaneous mixed shipments category, which consists primarily of intermodal, is becoming an increasingly large part of total railroad revenue. Other significant revenue drivers are chemicals, farm products, food, and automotive equipment. Some commodities are particularly dependent on rail transportation. According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), 70% of domestically produced automobiles, 70% of coal and 35% U.S. grain move by rail. Currently there are 7 Class I railroads and over 550 short-line and intermediate railroads.

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